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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 25, 2004

25 March 2004
Tatar Parliamentary Deputies Prepare For New Term
Tatarstan's Central Election Commission handed out parliamentary ID cards on 25 March to 100 deputies elected recently to the State Council, whose first session begins the following day, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party holds 85 seats in the new parliament, 39 of them in single-mandate districts, while the Communist Party holds four seats. The other 11 seats in the chamber went to independent candidates. Among deputies from single-mandate districts, 33 are directors of companies or organizations, another is a journalist, and two are deputy administration heads.

Human Rights Activists Pledge Assistance To Police
The Kazan Human Rights Center has planned a reception for local law-enforcement officers on 26 March to offer them personal legal assistance, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Human rights lawyers have tended to specialize in cases of alleged official abuse or police brutality. The Human Rights Center explained that police and other law-enforcement agents need legal advice as well, in many cases with regard to housing or labor issues. Many are ordered to work especially long hours and are not properly compensated, the group said.

Tatar Police Open Hot Line For Victims Of Computer Crime
The Tatarstan Interior Ministry has established a telephone hot line for victims of computer hackers in an effort to combat a recent upsurge in such crimes. Department experts say Kazan's hackers are well-aware not only of the technological aspect of their actions but also of the legal gap allowing them to evade serious sanctions.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Ufa Forum Focuses On State Religious Policy
Speaking at a roundtable on current confessional policy in Russia on 23 March in Ufa, Supreme Mufti and Central Muslim Religious Board Chairman Telget Tajetdin criticized the state's taxation policy, which obliges religious organizations to pay the same land tax and registration fees as commercial organizations. Tajetdin said that it is too expensive for those organizations that do not make a profit. In response, Vyacheslav Pyatkov, the head of the Bashkir government religious affairs council, said the issue of taxation of religious institutions will be revised. Pyatkov also said that studying religion will not be obligatory in Bashkortostan's secondary schools. An adviser to the presidential Volga District envoy Sergei Gradirovskii told the forum that religious journalism, a religious legal service, and expert and interfaith counseling all help to prevent interfaith conflicts. At the roundtable, Bashkortostan was named as an example of interfaith concord in Russia. Of 671 religious groups currently existing in the republic, there are 402 Islamic, 157 Russian Orthodox, four Lutheran, two Catholic, and other communities.

Skyguide Proposes Bigger Compensation For Air Crash Victims
The Swiss air traffic control service Skyguide has suggested that it pays $100,000 for each victim of the 1 July 2002 midair collision involving a Bashkir Airlines jet (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 24 March. Skyguide's previous proposal made last fall was $30,000 for each victim. The lawyers representing relatives of the victims have demanded $1.5 million for each victim.

Scholar Promotes More Tatar Lessons In Secondary Schools
In an interview with the RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Service on 24 March, Kamil Dewletshin, a lecturer in the Bashkir State University's Tatar Philology Department, said that Bashkortostan's Tatar schools should increase their Tatar-language instruction. Dewletshin asserted that increasing the volume of Tatar-language instruction is even more important than the increase in the number of Tatar schools in the republic.

Tuberculosis Spreading In Bashkortostan
The number of residents suffering from tuberculosis has increased by 62 percent in Bashkortostan since 1991, and the death rate of the disease has doubled in the same period, reported on 24 March. Currently 7,200 registered tuberculosis carriers live in the republic but the republic's Health Ministry considers the true number is much higher.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova