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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 2, 2005

2 May 2005
Trade Unions, Unified Russia March On May Day...
Celebrating the May Day holiday on 1 May, Tatarstan's Federation of Trade Unions and the republican chapter of the Unified Russia party organized a march through central Kazan and gathered on 1 May Square in front of the Kazan Kremlin, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. An estimated 3,000 people participated on behalf of trade unions for budget-sector employees. Tatyana Vodopyanova, chairwoman of Federation of Trade Unions, urged supporters to resume the fight for a "decent quality of life," adding that the "welfare of Russia's people should correspond to the country's economic growth." Vodopyanova claimed the minimum wage introduced by the federal government is much lower than the official monthly basket of food and other staples. As a result, she said, some 700,000 Tatarstan residents -- including state health-care, education, and culture sectors -- live in poverty.

...While Communists Gather Smaller May Day Meeting
Some 250 people, most of them pensioners, attended a May Day demonstration and protest organized by the Tatarstan branch of the Communist Party, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Some 50 activists of the Tatarstan branch of the Party of Life took part in the Communist meeting but declined to join the Communist ranks and departed without an announcement. After marching to Freedom Square, the Communist-led group concluded its May Day activities by protesting what it described as the "anti-popular" social and economic policies of Russian government.

Tatarstan To Send New Senators To Russia's Federation Council
President Mintimer Shaimiev told the Tatarstan State Council on 29 April that former Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov and former presidential chief of staff Ekzam Gobeidullin will represent Tatarstan in Russia's Federation Council, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. They will apparently replace the current senators from Tatarstan, Filze Khemidullin and Irina Larochkina, who will return to Kazan. Khemidullin will reportedly resume his work at Kazan's Finance and Economy Institute, while Larochkina is expected to head the Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Ufa City Council Deputies Confront Mayor
Deputies from the Ufa City Council appealed to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov on 29 April asking him to settle the current confrontation between the council's chairman, Makhmut Kasimov, and Ufa Mayor Pavel Kachkaev, the Volga-Urals edition of "Kommersant" reported the next day. Kachkaev has reportedly been accused of creating bureaucratic obstacles to hinder the registration of some of the candidates for the city legislative assembly, which is due to be elected 26 June 2005. The daily reports that Kasimov and half the members of the city council are all top managers at local petrochemical ventures united under Bashkirskii Kapital holding, which is controlled by Ural Rakhimov, the president's son. The president is attempting to return controlling interests in the fuel-and-energy companies to the republic's ownership.

Pro-Governmental Political Group Sabotages Opposition's May Day Event
Bashkir opposition groups failed to hold their scheduled May Day protest meeting on Ufa's Lenin Squre after some 4,000 activists from the Bashkir Youth Union overran the square and staged their own rally in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ufa reported. The opposition had originally planned to use the holiday to promote human rights and the rights of workers in state-owned enterprises, rather than protesting the local government. But their speeches were interrupted by the noise created by the youth activists, who were brought to the square by special buses.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi