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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 27, 2004


27 July 2004
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
European Human Rights Commissioner Attempts To Interview Tatar Press...
Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles took advantage of a 26 July press conference in Kazan to question Tatar journalists, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Members of Tatarstan's television, radio, print, and Internet media seemed stunned when Gil-Robles turned the tables during his press conference by asking them to share their views regarding freedom of information and freedom of press in the republic. One of the journalists representing Tatarstan's official press told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent after the event that "it was absolutely unthinkable for any of the reporters to be asked to share their problems with official bodies, while sitting in the conference hall" of the state news agency Tatmedia, "which was crowded by local officials, several video cameras, photo cameras, and dozens of tape-recording machines." The commissioner's pledge to "ensure absolute secrecy of sources of information about the alleged violations of press freedoms" was thus met with ironic laughter by reporters at the conference.

Later, a handful of journalists told Gil-Robles that local media represented a diversity of owners, including state and private individuals and groups, that are free to share their opinions via their own outlets.

Concluding the press conference, Gil-Robles commented that "it seems harder to extract any information about media freedoms from the local journalists than from the local officials."

...And Meets With Tatar President
President Mintimer Shaimiev told Gil-Robles on 26 July that the Tatar Republic will resume cooperation with European human rights institutions, noting that "the issue of human rights is new to us, because it emerged [in Tatarstan] along with the beginning of democratic development. It is very important for us to know that there are special institutions specializing in the protection of human rights." He also emphasized that both Tatarstan's government and the public have "realized that human rights have to be secured."

The commissioner said that during his trip across Russia he was "especially interested" in visiting Tatarstan, which "sets a priceless example of people of different nationalities and religions living in peace with each other in an atmosphere of dialogue."

Gil-Robles declined to comment on the general situation regarding human rights in Tatarstan and explained that all the important information will be presented in a public report devoted to Russia and presented to the Council of Europe in 2005.

Tatar Premier Heads To Iran For Industrial-Cooperation Talks
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov left for Iran on 26 July at the head of a delegation of Tatar government officials that will meet with East Azerbaijan Province Governor Mohammad Ali Sobkhanellahi, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The delegation will also visit the Tebriz oil, gas, and chemical company, and other local industries. Minnikhanov also plans to meet with Iran's ministers of oil and trade.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Turkish Trade Union Leader Promotes Eurasian Economic Direction In Ufa
Mustafa Ozbek, president of the International and Eurasian Federation of Metalworkers and chairman of the Turkish metallurgy trade union Turk Metal, told a news conference in Ufa on 23 July that both organizations represented "strong public institutions, vital for opposing the imperialism represented by the world's Americanization," Bashinform reported today. He claimed that for opposing the "evil will of employers and imperialists" the Turkish trade unions will promote a Eurasian direction of economic cooperation, which will help developing countries survive in the face of strong economic competition from the United States or the European Union.

Bashkir Industries Seek To Expand Cooperation With Vietnam
A delegation of Bashkortostan's business leaders, led by Trade and Industrial Chamber head Boris Bondarenko, left for a six-day trip to Vietnam on 26 July, Bashinform reported the same day. Top managers from the Ufa motor plant, Beloretsk metallurgical factory, the Ufa elastic-materials plant, and other industries will reportedly meet potential partners and inspect industrial plants in the cities of Khanoi and Khochimin.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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