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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 11, 2003

11 August 2003
Russian Nationalities Minister Praises Russia's Possible Joining Of Islamic Conference
Russia's joining of the Islamic Conference will be a an interesting step not only from the geopolitical point of view but also for the country's domestic policy, Russian Ministry on Nationalities Affairs Minister Vladimir Zorin told reporters on 8 August. Zorin said 20 million Muslims live in Russia, adding that the Islamic factor is a very important issue for peace and stability. Zorin added that an international conference on the Great Volga Route, which is being retraced aboard a ship on the Volga River, follows the path the first missionaries used in spreading Islam in Russia. "There are few places in the world where a similar experience of cooperation between Orthodoxy and Islam exists, while this issue is now of importance for the international community," Zorin said. The proposal for Russia to join the Organization of the Islamic Conference was put forth by President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Malaysia the previous week.

Russian Guantanamo Prisoners To Be Extradited?
The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on 8 August that it is working with the U.S. on the legal and logistical formalities for extraditing to Russia the Russian citizens being held prisoner at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. The Russian side is represented in the process by the Prosecutor-General's Office, the report said. The ministry confirmed that eight Russian citizens from Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Chelyabinsk, and Tyumen Oblast are being held in Guantanamo. The Prosecutor-General's Office has previously reported that the "Russian Talibans" may be charged with the illegal crossing of the state border and being hired as fighters with the maximum possible punishment of up to seven-years' imprisonment. Prosecutors added, however, that the term may be increased if evidence of involvement in more serious crimes is presented.

Great Volga Route Conference Signs Tehran Declaration
A declaration on cooperation between the cities along the Great Volga Route was adopted on 9 August at a session of the Great Volga Route Conference in Tehran, reported the same day. An exhibition devoted to the Kazan millennium and a business exposition of companies from Kazan and Tehran were organized in the Iranian capital during the event, which was chaired by Iranian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Education and Research Ali Reza Moayyeri. A greeting from Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was read at the gathering attended by Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnyi, Iranian First Deputy Culture Minister Araki, Tehran Mayor Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad and Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov.

Russian Construction Official Lauds Tatarstan's Achievements In Construction, Housing Sectors
Russian State Construction Committee Chairman Nikolai Koshman visited Kazan on 8 August to award Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev with an honorary degree of "Creator of the Year," Tatar-inform and reported. Meeting with Shaimiev the same day, Koshman said Tatarstan's construction and housing and municipal-services sector workers are Russia's "absolute leaders in terms of modern technology usage, replacing substandard housing, connecting [dwellings] to gas pipelines, mortgage-housing construction, and housing-insurance issues. You go a step [more] in advancing the issues we are trying to resolve," Koshman added. Shaimiev said a large-scale program of mortgage-housing construction will follow the program replacing substandard housing, which is due to be completed next year. Koshman suggested that governors from across Russia gather in Tatarstan in the fall to study the housing experience of the republic, which is "a leader in resolving problems of construction and reform in the housing and municipal-service sector."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Federal Interior Minister Rebukes Bashkir Subordinate
Bashkir Interior Minister Lieutenant General Rafail Divaev received a warning that he is not fully meeting his job requirements, and RosBalt reported on 8 August. Bashkir ministry spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov said the same day that an order signed by Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov on 10 July was delivered to the Bashkir ministry only in late July.

The order refers to "serious neglect of duties in organization of managing ministry bodies and departments," as well as "decreasing influence of the republican ministry in the republic's regions," revealed in a recent probe of the Bashkir ministry by the federal ministry. The document further asserts that the head of the Bashkir ministry and his deputies "directed their activities at fulfilling orders from republican authorities which often contradict federal legislation." As a result, the ministry became "involved in settling business and political disputes between regional and federal bodies."

Gryzlov noted that interior bodies were used for "levying debts" and that some 1 billion rubles were illegally received from owners in 1999-2001 "with the very active assistance of Divaev and his deputies." Republic police practiced manipulation and upward distortion of statistics reflecting their work results, according to the order. Divaev's "arbitrary" style of management "negatively affected personnel policy" as people were often employed "irrespective of business and moral qualities by personal devotion and ethnic identity." Divaev was ordered to address the problems listed by October. Divaev's first deputy, Nikolai Patrikeev, was also dismissed by the order. Divaev, 52, has headed the ministry since February 1996.

Bashkir Prime Minister, Russian Finance Minister Discuss Budget Issues
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov met on 7 August in Moscow with Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin to inform him about socioeconomic development of the republic and implementation of the republican budget, Bashinform reported on 8 August. The two discussed issues of budgetary relations and Bashkortostan's readiness to increase salaries for state-sector employees. Kudrin praised the republic for its high preparedness for the raise, saying it is among the few regions with enough resources to do so on schedule and in full.

Implementation of the federal program on socioeconomic development of Bashkortostan to 2006 was also on the agenda. It was noted that it is being successfully fulfilled both by federal and republican sides.

Yabloko Without Yavlinskii Begins Activity In Bashkortostan
Midkhet Sheyekhmetov, the coordinator of the Yabloko without Yavlinskii movement in Bashkortostan, told RosBalt on 8 August that an initial group of 50 members has been formed in the republic. The group plans to hold 25 pickets in the next five days to collect signatures for Yavlinskii's dismissal, Sheyekhmetov said. Sheyekhmetov said the movement intends to force Yavlinskii to step down at a party congress slated for 6-7 September in Moscow, adding that Yabloko "has turned red" since it joined the Communist Party in calling for the dismissal of the government and "has rotted" since bright people were ousted from it. The Yabloko without Yavlinskii movement, established in late July in St. Petersburg, accuses party leader Yavlinskii of weakness, ambition, populism, and drawing the party into the Yukos issue.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova