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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 14, 2000

14 March 2000
Zhirinovsky Holds Pre-election Activities In Kazan
Russian Presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky campaigned in Kazan on 13 March. During a press conference Zhirinovsky said that "Russia had to be a unitary state in which the regions have no political rights, are economically equal, and regional administration heads are appointed by Moscow." He insisted that the number of servicemen in the Russian Army had to be increaded to 3 million; the Federal Security Service to 1 million; and Interior Ministry forces also to 1 million. The ultranationalist said that in Russia one should govern with "blood, fear, soldiers, police, and violence." He also said he would increase the presidential term to eight years. Zhirinovsky said he'd work to create a new military and political union of Russia, Belarus, India, Armenia, and a number of other countries in order to oppose NATO. He called on Iran, India, and Arabic countries to be Russia's allies.

Zhirinovsky later held a rally at Kazan's Gorky Park. Using his trademark shouting manner of speech he announced that there would be "rivers of blood if he would start abolishing the sovereign Russian regions." He also declared that "there would be no journalists in Russia, because all of them are liars." He pledged that all people would be able to access information via the Internet from their homes. Zhirinovsky promised that he would eliminate Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe in Russia the next day after he takes office. He claimed there are two possible winners in the election -- himself and acting President Vladimir Putin.

Russian Interior Minister Visits Kazan
Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo told journalists in Kazan on 13 March that he was unfamiliar with Tatarstan and wanted to become better acquainted with the situation there. Rushailo said he was visiting the Volga regions of Russia to check on how his anti-terrorist operation Whirlwind is being applied. Rushailo decided to unexpectedly visit the Whirlwind checkpoint in Kazan for a spot check. He also visited the offices of Tatarstan's Interior Ministry.

College Director On Hunger Strike
The director of the Kazan Academic College, Pavel Shmakov, is continuing a hunger strike he began on 1 March. Shmakov is protesting the decision of the city administration to close down the school. He claims that the college is being closed only because the administration promised the building the school currently occupies to a commercial bank. The college was formed in 1996 by a Tatarstan presidential decree to bring together gifted students from across the republic. Some of the college's graduates are reportedly successfully gaining admission to more prestigious universities.

The city administration accuses Shmakov of violating educational standards. For example, it says that there are only 15 students instead of a regular 30 in each class of the college, and it complains that there are no specially appointed department chiefs because some of the teachers are performing those jobs part-time. The republican Ministry of Education is reportedly not involved in the dispute.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi