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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 8, 2002

8 November 2002
Senior Tatar Official And Wife Killed In French Train Tragedy
Russia's consulate general in Strasbourg officially confirmed reports of the death in France of Tatarstan Deputy Communications Minister Ravil Fatikhov, 43, and his wife Rezide in a fire on a Vienna-to-Paris train, reported on 6 November. The fire, sparked by a short circuit in the early morning hours of 6 November, killed 12 passengers -- including from Russia, the United States, Germany, Hungary, and Greece. Nine injured passengers were also hospitalized in Nancy, France.

Communists Push Parliamentary Course For Tatarstan
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) in Tatarstan labeled the political course of Russian and Tatarstan authorities as antinational and "antipopular" at their meeting in Kazan devoted to the 85th anniversary of the October revolution on 7 November, reported the same day. Meeting participants called for the dismissal of the Russian government, dissolution of Russia's Federation Council, and dissolution of the Tatar State Council. They also demanded that the Tatar president be dismissed, the presidential post in Tatarstan be abolished, and parliamentary democracy be established in the republic. Slogans presented at the meeting criticized reforms in the pension, military, housing, education, and energy sectors. Communists demanded that state regulation of staple foodstuffs and prices be restored, the salaries of state-sector employees be doubled, prices for housing and municipal services be frozen, and that privileges for war veterans be revived. They criticized the Land Code, protested the sale and purchase of agricultural lands, and demanded that natural resources, forests, and reservoirs be returned to the state. Meeting participants as well called for developing measures aimed at stopping the Chechen war.

Duma Deputy Calls For Formation Of Medical Special Forces
A State Duma deputy from Tatarstan and deputy chairman of the Health Care and Sport Committee, Mikhail Rokitskii, said on 7 November that medical special units -- medical "spetsnaz" -- should be formed to help hostages during special operations, reported the same day. Rokitskii told reporters in Kazan that medical provisions connected with the operation to free hostages in a Moscow theater on 26 October left numerous questions unanswered. He said ambulances that were used near the theater were charged with transporting hostages rather than providing them with emergency medical care. Rokitskii called it incomprehensible that a majority of the hostages were delivered to hospital No. 13, which has no toxicology unit, rather than to the Sklifosovskii Institute, whose toxicology unit is among the best in the country.

Rokitskii said the arrangement of a field hospital near the theater -- a measure that he claimed would take no more than 15 minutes -- would be more logical. Participation in the special operation of civilian medical personnel "was not the best solution," he claimed, adding that it would be better to use military medics or those from the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Deputy Says Criticism Of Tatar Constitution Is Mere Politicking
Tatarstan State Council Deputy and Presidium member Marat GAliyev said the Tatar Constitution presents "absolutely no threat" to Russian security, reported on 6 November. GAliyev said some articles of the new version of the republican constitution are more moderate than previous variants approved by the Russian presidential administration's legal board. He said the Tatar Constitution was confirmed by "authoritative experts in constitutional law who developed the Russian Constitution" and is being evaluated from political rather than juridical or legal points of view. "Russia's current legislation is moving away from the ideas of federalism toward a unitary state, especially during the establishment of vertical power," GAliyev said. "Since 2000, numerous acting laws have been made tougher in order to weaken regions."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir President Addresses Residents On Anniversary Of Bolshevik Revolution...
On 7 November, the anniversary of the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which is now celebrated in Russia as the Days of Reconciliation and Accord on 7-8 November, Murtaza Rakhimov issued a statement to the residents of Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. In the statement, Rakhimov said that "the need for unity and solidarity is the main lesson that we have learned from history." Rakhimov added that the residents of the republic "can be proud of the social and political stability, as well as the interethnic and interfaith concord in Bashkortostan."

...As Bashkir Communists Mark Anniversary With Protest
About 500 members of the Bashkir branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation gathered on Lenin Square in Ufa on 7 November to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin's policy on housing reform, which includes a reduction in state subsidies for the maintenance of apartments.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi