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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 28, 2004

28 June 2004
Criminal Case Against Former Guantanamo Prisoners Closed
Seven former prisoners of the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba, who have since been in pre-trial detention in Pyatigorsk, were released on 22 June, "Kommersant" and "Izvestia" reported on 25 and 26 June, respectively. Among them are Tatarstan residents, Rawil Minkhajev and Airat Wakhitov, and Bashkortostan residents, Rawil Gomerov and Shamil Hajiev. The men were accused of cooperation with the Taliban against U.S. troops in the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan in 2001. "Izvestia" quoted the head of the Prosecutor-General's Office's North Caucasus Board Nikolai Khazikov as saying the charges had been dropped because of a lack of evidence. Among the allegations against the men, were participation in criminal groups and illegally crossing state borders.

Kazan Helicopter Plant's Board Changed On Eve Of Merger
At the annual shareholders' meeting of the Kazan Helicopter Plant (KVZ) on 24 June, participants elected Rosoboroneksport head Sergei Chemezov to the company's board, "Kommersant" reported on 25 June. Tatar Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Pakhomov said the move is linked to the upcoming merger of KVZ with the Mil Helicopters holding. Chemezov's candidacy was promoted by the Tatar government, the owner of a 30-percent stake in the plant, together with the candidacies of Cosmic Agency Deputy Head Valerii Voskoboinikov, Pakhomov, and a foreign-policy adviser to Tatarstan's president, Timur Akulov, who were also elected. Seven other seats were filled with KVZ managers. Commenting on the planned merger of KVZ with Mil Helicopters, KVZ General Director Aleksandr Lavrentev said it was a "collectivization of the defense companies that managed to survive in the early 1990s."

Contractor Of Businessman Murder Seeks Political Asylum In Spain
The alleged contractor of the murder of Eibet Eibetov, the former general director of the Krasnyi Vostok brewery, has appealed for political asylum in Spain, RIA-Novosti reported on 26 June, citing the Tatar prosecutor's office. Eibetov was shot dead in February 1996 near his apartment in Kazan. The killer was arrested in late 2003. The asylum seeker, whose name has not been reported, was detained by Interpol on 12 February in Spain and is being held in custody. The suspect appealed to the Spanish authorities seeking political asylum while the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has demanded that he be extradited to Russia.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Election Commission Head Re-Elected
Bashkortostan's new Central Election Commission (USK) at its first session on 25 June re-elected Baryi Kinjegulov chairman by a vote of 10 for and two against, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent and Russian and Bashkir media reported. Kinjegulov was re-elected despite opposition from the Russian Central Election Commission (TsIK), which accused Kinjegulov of numerous violations of election legislation.

Before the vote, visiting TsIK member Yevgenii Kolyushin relayed a message from TsIK Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov that the TsIK unanimously opposes Kinjegulov's re-election. Among the reasons for the TsIK's position, Veshnyakov listed the USK's refusals to register opposition candidates in the Bashkir presidential elections that were then overruled by the TsIK and the courts; printing some 3 million ballots for the 2003 State Duma elections on improper paper that could have invalidated the election results; and the big difference in the March 2004 Russian presidential election results in the republic reported initially by local election commissions by telephone and those then listed in election protocols. Kinjegulov, after the vote, said he "respects the criticism" and will definitely "make conclusions" from "signals" listed by the TsIK.

Kolyushin commented on Kinjegulov's election that "there are no reasons to annul the USK decision" and that the TsIK can do nothing more, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 June. He added that the TsIK is "strongly concerned" about the investigation of the incident where illegal ballots were discovered during the December Bashkir presidential elections in a printing house controlled by the presidential administration (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 5 December 2003).

Issue Of Compensations For Midair-Collision Victims Settled
Yuliya Fedotova, coordinator of the committee of the July 2002 midair collision victims' relatives, told Interfax-Povolzhe on 24 June that an agreement on payment of compensations for the collision victims was reached on 17 June in Potsdam, Germany, and that money will be paid within two or three weeks (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 February 2004). Fedotova said that the money will be paid from a special compensation fund and that all clients of German lawyers Michael Vitti, Wolfgang Felou, and Gerrit Wilmans, who represent relatives of children lost in the collision, agreed on payment from the fund. Sums for each family will be determined separately. Fedotova said that although European legislation provides for $20,000 in compensation for a child lost in an air crash, in this case, Switzerland, Germany, and the Swiss air-traffic-control service Skyguide agreed to increase the sum eightfold. She said, "The result we reached exceeds all payments ever made on accidents that killed children." The Swiss and German governments and Skyguide will contribute to the fund, Fedotova added.

Russian Court Upholds Ban On Scientologists
The Russian Supreme Court upheld the 9 February verdict by the Bashkir Supreme Court banning the Church of Scientology in the republic, RIA-Novosti reported on 24 June, citing the Bashkir court. During the trial in the Bashkir court, prosecutor Florid Baikov said that the organization practices unlicensed educational and medical activities that "negatively affect the thinking and psychology of trainees" and "threatens public health." The Scientologists have been in Bashkortostan in 1994 and over 2,000 people have undergone training by them since then.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova