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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 2, 2000

2 August 2000
Sabotage Group Trial Suspended
On 1 August, Tatarstan's Supreme Court suspended the trial of the group alleged to have sabotaged a gas pipeline in Kirov Oblast on 30 November and 1 December. Reportedly, one of the suspects refused the services of a defense lawyer while the court has insisted that all 10 members of the group have lawyers. Currently, the group is accused of organizing acts of sabotage against the Russian Federation and carrying firearms and explosives. Federal laws provide for a penalty of 12 to 20 years of imprisonment for such crimes. The chief of the investigation group from Tatarstan's State Security Committee, Igor Selivanovskii, told Tatarstan's press on 2 August that the blasts were planned "only as acts of sabotage and not as terrorist acts." He said that during the investigation the suspects confessed that they "intended to bring economic damage in response to the combat actions of the Russian army in Chechnya, but later refused to confirm" those statements."

Prosecutors claimed that the investigation collected conclusive evidence that proves the guilt of the suspects. The investigation stated that the suspects--who are citizens of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Kirov Oblast "were trained in terrorist camps in the Chechen Republic and represent the extremist branch of Wahhabism in Islam." The gas pipeline blast in an open field several kilometers from the Tatarstan-Kirov Oblast border reportedly caused 8 million rubles in damage. The judge did not set the date for the next court session.

Daily: Shaimiev's Influence Rating Has Risen
The Russian daily "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 1 August published a list of its top 100 most influential Russian politicians according to a July public opinion poll taken by the VP-T polling service. According to the ratings, Russian President Vladimir Putin, chief of the presidential staff Aleksandr Voloshin, and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov are the most influential politicians in Russia. According to the experts quoted by the newspaper, some members of the Russian Federation Council increased their influence rating despite the recent crisis in the council. For example council chairman Yegor Stroev reached the 12th spot after having the 16th position in June, and Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev was in the 37th spot after coming in 47th the previous month.

State Duma deputy Oleg Morozov, who represents Tatarstan and is the chairman of the Rossiyskiye Regioni faction, cracked the list for the first time, while Bashkortostan's president, Murtaza Rakhimov, was not on it.

Tatarstan's Oil Industry Willing To Help Federal Consolidation Process
Tatarstan's premier, Rustam Minnikhanov, attended a meeting of the Tatneftekhiminvestholding company uniting the oil chemical enterprises of the republic on 1 August, Tatarinform agency reported the same day. Minnikhanov spoke in favor of integrating the oil chemical industry of the entire Privolzhsky federal district, saying that Tatarstan's government already sent its proposals on this to the Russian presidential representative for the region, Sergei Kirienko. The prime minister emphasized that "such initiative is caused by economic necessity and must be supported." He noted that the oil chemical companies of the Privolzhsky administrative district represented a 35 percent share in the Russian national chemical industry.

Putin To Consider Future Development Of Kazan And Tatarstan
According to Tatarstan's media, Russian President Putin is to consider draft programs for preserving and developing the historical center of Kazan and the socio-economic development of Tatarstan that were recently submitted to Moscow by republican President Mintimer Shaimiev. The programs were extended to include preparations for the 1000th anniversary of Kazan, which is to be celebrated on 30 August 2005.

By Iskender Nurmi