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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 11, 2004

11 February 2004
Shaimiev Says Each Russian Region Should Be Treated Differently
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev joined a meeting of the presidential commission on federal relations and local self-government in Moscow on 10 February, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The commission, chaired by the deputy head of the Russian presidential staff Dmitrii Kozak, focused on analyzing a number of draft federal laws. During the discussion, Shaimiev urged the commission to consider the unique peculiarities of each territorial entity when distributing powers between the federal center and the regions.

Court Dismisses Suit Against SPS Branch In Tatarstan
On 9 February, the Tatar Supreme Court rejected the claim of the Party of Life, which is seeking to have the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) disqualified from the electoral race for the republic's parliament, "Vechernyaya Kazan" wrote the next day. In its legal suit the Party of Life demanded that Tatarstan's Central Election Commission (USK) should cancel the registration of SPS candidates, because the party list was submitted to the commission by Leonid Bogorodskii, who was not formally authorized to do so by the party's conference. Party of Life representatives also insisted that Bogorodskii did not have the party's official blessing for contributing the registration fee. According to Party of Life representative Igor Gulichev, the "illegal registration of the SPS" violated his organization's rights. During the heated court debate, Gulichev admitted he was concerned that his party's potential voters were moving toward the SPS. After the trial, Party of Life activists announced that they would dispute the Supreme Court ruling in Moscow.

USK Distributes Voting Positions, Free Airtime
Tatarstan's Central Election Commission (USK) held a lottery on 10 February to define the order of appearance of political parties on the voting ballots to be used in the 14 March elections for the republic's State Council, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The local branches of the Unified Russia party, the Russian Communist Workers Party, and the Russian Regions party won the top three positions in the list. The same day, USK held lotteries for the distribution of free airtime at the state TV and radio stations.

Murdered Vodokanal Director Said To Have Problems With The Law
According to "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" daily on 10 February, Tatarstan's Interior Ministry is looking into the business dealings of Grigorii Arutyunov, the former director of the Vodokanal water supply system in Kazan, who was shot dead on 5 February (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 February 2004). The daily cited Interior Minister Esget Seferov as saying that Arutyunov's murder was probably related to his work. Seferov said that most likely Arutyunov was aware of the illegal business practices of his deputies, which might have included tax evasion.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Unsuccessful Candidate In Presidential Race Contests Electoral Legislation
The Russian Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal by Rimma Vodenko, who is protesting against the registration fee of 9.75 million rubles ($341,985) for Bashkir presidential candidates, reported on 10 February. Vodenko's appeal was rejected on 1 December 2003 by the Bashkir Supreme Court. Vodenko, a deputy head of the Tatar-Bashkir cultural and information center in the Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug, was unable to collect enough signatures required for registration or pay the registration fee for the December 2003 presidential elections in Bashkortostan. Vodenko said that such a high fee is an infringement on the rights of citizens to elect and be elected. Her position is backed by the For Human Rights nongovernmental organization, which says that arbitrarily determining the size of a registration fee violates federal law.

NIKoil Seeks To Take Over UralSib
Russian Deputy Antimonopoly Minister Andrei Kashevarov said on 10 February that the NIKoil financial corporation appealed the previous week to the ministry to approve the purchase of over 75 percent of UralSib, "Vedomosti" reported on 11 February. Kashevarov said the ministry is bound by law to respond within a month. In October 2003, NIKoil's subsidiary Aktiv-Holding purchased 14 percent of UralSib (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5 November 2003) and in December 2003, Fuad Akhundov, Avtobank-NIKoil first deputy chairman, was appointed acting UralSib president (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 17 December 2003). The Bashkir state owns 22 percent of UralSib. Previously, NIKoil has denied reports about its plans to take over UralSib.

Bashkir Police Extend Security Measures
The Bashkir police and security bodies have launched an antiterror operation following the 6 February blast in the Moscow metro, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 10 February. In the first day of the operation, 370 suspected criminals were detained, 22 of them were wanted by federal law enforcement bodies. Bashkir Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov said extended security measures had been introduced in the republic's airports and bus stations and the number of street patrols had been doubled.

Bread Prices Rise Again
Bread prices in Bashkortostan have risen despite the republic's Agriculture Ministry saying that prices will not increase, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 10 February. Agriculture Minister Grigorii Gorobets has said the republic will not face a deficit. In Bashkortostan, bread costs 10.4 rubles ($0.36) or higher; the same amount can be bought in Tatarstan for 7 rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova