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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 5, 2002

5 December 2002
President Of CIS Jewish Communities Praises Tatar Leadership For Support
President Minitmer Shaimiev met on 4 December with the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Levi Levaev, to discuss the development of the Kazan Jewish community, reported the same day. Tatarstan's Chief Rabbi Itskhak Gorelik, Kazan Jewish community Chairman Aleksandr Velder, and assistant to the president of the Jewish communities of the CIS in Russia David Mondshtain were in attendance.

Levaev thanked the Tatar president for his support for the Jewish community of the republic in the past. Levaev said he was satisfied that the Kazan Jewish community, thanks to the policy of interethnic and interconfessional concord of the republic's leadership, lives comfortably and happily. He added that mutual understanding between the nations, freedom of conscience, and the possibility to observe national traditions and laws exist in Tatarstan, where some 10,000 Jews reside.

Tajik Residents Sentenced For Trafficking 52 Kilograms Of Heroin
The Yeshel Uzen City Court on 4 December sentenced Kugan Sariev and Khasan Khattamov from Tajikistan to 10 and seven years in prison, respectively, for trafficking 52 kilograms of heroin, reported the same day.

The two men were arrested this spring trafficking 28 kilograms of heroin to Yeshel Uzen from Uzbekistan in a truck with dried fruit (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5 April 2002). Police also seized 11 kilograms of heroin from a Yeshel Uzen woman the men hired to deliver unknowingly to Moscow for 6,000 rubles ($188). Several days later, another 12.6 kilograms of heroin belonging to the men arrived in Yeshel Uzen. The heroin was of Afghan origin and was intended for Moscow.

The 4 December verdict replaced a previous one issued by the same court earlier this fall, under which Sariev and Khattamov were sentenced to 7 1/2 and four years in prison, respectively. The first sentencing gave the pair lesser punishment than is permitted by the Criminal Code for similar crimes and was appealed by the prosecutors' office.

Insurance Company Pays $3.2 Million To Kazan Plant For Helicopter Accident
The Ingosstrakh insurance company has paid $3.2 million to the Kazan Helicopter Plant in compensation for the crash of a Mi-17 vehicle that took place in Chile on 4 June, "Vremya i dengi" daily reported on 4 December. The accident in which the helicopter was damaged was caused by bad weather. The payment was the largest ever paid in Tatarstan, the daily said.

Nationalists Demand Official Status For Memorial Day
The Tatar Public Center Presidium and Tatarstan's Peoples' Front appealed on 4 December to President Shaimiev, State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, and Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov to declare 15 October, Memorial Day, marking Kazan's conquest by Ivan the Terrible, a holiday in Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The proposal was adopted by thousands of participants of Memorial Day on 15 October, the appeal's authors said. They also demand that a monument be erected and a museum be established to commemorate Kazan's defenders.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Constitution To Enter Force On 6 December
The new Bashkir Constitution (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 December 2002) will be published by the republican press on 6 December, thus entering into legal force on that date, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 4 December. Unlike the previous constitution, the new one does not contain the power-sharing signed treaty between the Russian and Bashkir governments. Speaking at a press conference on 3 December, President Murtaza Rakhimov said that this does not mean that the treaty has been nullified.

Interior Ministry Reports Decreasing Crime Rate
Deputy Interior Minister Viner Gazeev told a conference of heads of regional administrations on 4 December that the republic registered 48,500 crimes in the first 11 months of this year, which is a decrease of 8.6 percent in comparison with the same period of 2001, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 5 December. Gazeev also noted that Bashkortostan had a lower crime rate than the country as a whole, with 106 crimes per 10,000 citizens, as compared to 144 crimes per 10,000 citizens throughout Russia.

New Center To Define Region's Development Goals
The federal inspector in Bashkortostan, Ivan Ognev, told RosBalt on 4 December that a new Regional Center of Strategic Development will be opened in the republic as of January 2003. The center, which will be administered by the Strategic Research Center under the office of the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, will reportedly work on "defining the main tasks for the region's development and attracting investments" to the republic. Twelve of the 15 regions of the Volga Federal District already have such centers.

Turkish Consul Visits Ufa
Turkish Consul-General to Kazan Ismail Sefa Yujeer visited Bashkortostan on 3-4 December, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 5 December. During his first trip to the republic, Yujeer met with Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov to discuss the economic situation in the republic, as well as Bashkortostan's natural resources and industrial potential.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi