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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 5, 2004

5 February 2004
Chally Residents Hold Picket To Protest Anti-Muslim Publication
Some 50 people staged a picket in front of the building of the Chally city administration on 29 January to protest the publication in local media calling on residents to be vigilant toward young Muslim women, reported on 4 February, citing Kama-press. The 20 January article titled "Are Islamic Female Suicide Warriors Trained in Chally?" said the Federal Security Service (FSB) recommends people to pay special attention to Muslim women whose dresses are made of dense cloth and whose headscarves are knotted behind the head (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 January 2004). The picketers carried slogans saying, "A headscarf is our pride" and "Islam is our religion." Unidentified Moscow human rights activists said that the above-mentioned publication contains "motives for inspiring interethnic and interfaith hatred." Such calls contradict legislation and may result in negative attitude toward Muslims, human rights leaders said.

126 Candidates Registered For State Council
The Tatar Central Election Commission (USK) has registered 126 candidates for the State Council, the USK press center reported on 4 February. In total 250 candidates are running in the republic's 50 single-mandate districts and on party lists. Seventy-two of the registered candidates ran on party lists, 51 candidates presented signed petitions supporting their candidatures, and three candidates paid a registration fee. In total, 124 candidates presented petitions or paid a registration fee of 150,000 rubles ($5,256). On 5 February, the USK is to consider the registrations of the Development of Entrepreneurship Party, the Russian Communist Workers Party-Russian Party of Communists, the Party of Russian Regions, and the Motherland bloc.

German Citizen On Trial For Buying Explosives
A trial in the case of German citizen Uwe Kruger, who is accused of trying to purchase explosives in Tatarstan, resumed on 4 February in Tuben Kama, "Izvestia" reported on 5 February, citing Interfax. Kruger, 36, was detained by Tuben Kama police in May 2003 as he was allegedly purchasing 20 kilograms of explosives. An investigation revealed that Kruger was allegedly intending to use the explosive to blow up his house in Berlin and then claim the insurance money. The trial is being held behind closed doors with a representative of the German Embassy in attendance.

Crimean Tatars Hold Protest In Sudak
Some 300 Crimean Tatars protested in Sudak on 4 February, reported the same day. The protesters gathered near a monument commemorating deported people. They carried slogans protesting genocide, land sales, and ethnic persecution in Crimea. Meanwhile, some 150 Crimean Tatars protested outside a police building in Sudak on 1 February after the arrest of a Tatar who reportedly beat up a resident in a neighboring village, "Trud-7" reported on 5 February. Special police units were deployed to deal with the protests. Sergei Kunitsyn, the head of the Crimean government, said the action is "a provocation with a political tinge." He said Sudak Raion has recently become "a source of this kind of conflict." Many conflicts stem from Crimean Tatars' claims on lands on Crimea's southern coast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Russian Prosecutors Resume Investigation Into Ufa Printing House Fire
The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office is investigating the case of the false voting ballots seized in Ufa before the first round of last year's December presidential elections in Bashkortostan, For Human Rights movement activist Vladimir Stepanov told RosBalt on 4 February. Evidence in the case was reportedly sent to Moscow in December and prosecutors are still refusing to comment on the investigation.

It is known that prosecutors are also considering the numerous complaints of electoral violations during the presidential and Duma votes in Bashkortostan by the opposition candidates and human rights organizations including For Human Rights.

On 4 December, Bashkir presidential candidates Sergei Veremeenko and Relif Safin and State Duma candidate Airat Dilmokhemmetov told local law enforcement bodies that the Ufa printing house owned by the presidential administration was printing extra voting ballots to be used for falsifying the presidential elections. By the time police and local Federal Security Service agents arrived at the site, the ballots were set on fire and according to the opposition leaders, the police were actually preventing them and fire squads from entering the building until most of the ballots were destroyed (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 December 2003).

Later. deputy Bashkir prosecutor Vladimir Korostilev told reporters that the extra ballots were ordered by Bashkir presidential administration head Radii Khabirov. After the presidential elections Korostilev was transferred to the Ulyanovsk Oblast prosecutor's office, while his superior, Bashkir chief prosecutor Florid Baikov, retired.

Safin Halts Lawsuit Against Results Of Presidential Vote
Russian Federation Council representative for Altai and former LUKoil executive Relif Safin called off his lawsuit in the Bashkir Supreme Court against the official results of December's presidential vote in Bashkortostan, RosBalt reported on 4 February. Safin, who lost in the first round, reportedly attributed the decision to an "unwillingness to destabilize the situation in the republic."

Opposition Activists Under Administrative Pressure After Elections
Viner Fattakhov, the former head of Sergei Veremeenko's campaign headquarters in Bashkortostan's Durtile Raion, told RFE/RL on 4 February that despite President Murtaza Rakhimov's pledge not to persecute supporters of his rivals after the December elections, he and his relatives are experiencing serious politically motivated pressure from the local administration. Fattakhov said that he and his family members were deprived of their jobs and had no perspectives of getting new ones. He said his friends and neighbors were also forced to avoid contact with Fattakhov under threat of sanctions from the raion administration.

Change In Head Of Bashkir Media Policies Rumored
Bashkortostan's State Secretary Fewket Kidrasov is likely to head the future board on media and publishing, which is to replace the former Media Ministry, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 4 February, citing an unnamed Bashkir government source (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 February 2004).

Before his appointment as state secretary in 2001, Kidrasov, 56, worked as a deputy head of the Bashkir presidential administration and rector of the Bashkir Institute for Educational Development.

Until recently, the republic's media policies were implemented by Media Minister Zoefer Timerbolatov, whose next appointment is still unknown.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi