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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 11, 2005


11 January 2005
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Trial Date Set For Criminal Case Against Former Duma Deputy
Kazan's Wakhitov Raion Court received the case against former State Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin on 20 December and scheduled the trial to start on 18 January, "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 30 December. Shashurin is accused of fraud that earned him over 36 million rubles ($1.3 million). On 24 December, a preliminary hearing on accusations against Shashurin of slandering Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov and his deputies was held. Speaking on television in November 2003, Shashurin claimed that Seferov and his deputies Renat Timerjanov and Andrei Vazanov are linked to the kidnapping and killing of KamAZ Metallurgy Plant General Director Viktor Faber (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 and 3 October 2003).

Shaimiev Looks Back At 2004, Prospects In 2005
In an interview with Interfax on 31 December, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said the administrative reform on the election of governors and the monetization of in-kind benefits were the main events of the year ending. Shaimiev said that, unlike regional administrations, federal ones have not been properly reformed, as a result of which there is no due and efficient interaction between the two levels of administration. He also said Russia's economic strategy should be aimed at the efficient growth of gross domestic product rather than doubling it. Shaimiev predicted trouble in the first half of the year when people begin to really feel all the consequences of the monetization of benefits coinciding with an increase in housing and municipal-services tariffs and inflation. He added that an absence of common standards for monetary compensation in all the regions will result in violations of the rights of residents.

Shaimiev said 2004 will be remembered in Tatarstan as the end of the eight-year slum-clearing program under which one in 10 Tatar residents saw improved living conditions. As part of the social-mortgage construction program presented at the end of 2004, the cost of mortgages will be reduced by 30 percent and credits will be provided for the term of 28.5 years under 7 percent interest, down from 14-15 percent in ordinary mortgage schemes.

Compensation For Tuqai Award Increased
President Shaimiev signed on 31 December a decree on the Gabdulla Tuqai state award, under which monetary payment to award laureates will be increased to 300,000 rubles ($10,800), tatcenter.ru reported on 4 January, citing the presidential press service. Three awards named after the prominent Tatar poet will be awarded annually for outstanding achievements in literature and arts. Previously its monetary prize was a hundred minimum wages, which was raised to 720 rubles as of 1 January. The award was established in 1958.

Zorlu Plans To Privatize Tupras With Tatneft
Zorlu General Director Ahmet Nazif Zorlu told a press conference on 30 December that Turkey's Zorlu Holding financial/industrial group, in alliance with Tatneft, will take part in the new privatization of Turkey's Tupras group of oil refineries in March, Tatarinform reported on 5 January, citing the Turkish information agency ntvmsnbc.com. A Zorlu spokesman said, "We cannot have any other partner than Tatneft in the tender," adding that the price of Tupras will become clear during the auction.

In February 2004, the Turkish government approved the purchase by the alliance of Tatneft subsidiary Efremov Rautchuk and Zorlu Holding of 65.76 percent of Tupras for $1.3 billion. After the oil-sector trade union filed a lawsuit on 24 May to annul the results of the tender, a Turkish court declared the Tupras privatization illegal and in violation of state interests.

Shaimiev Rated As Most Influential Governor
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev was ranked first in the December rating of most influential governors composed by the Center for Political Technologies and published by politcom.ru. Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich, Kemerovo Oblast Governor Aman Tuleev, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov were ranked second, third, and fourth, respectively. Results of regional elections and relations with federal authorities were taken into account in the rating, which was composed on the basis of a survey of 18 political analysts representing the Russian Presidential Academy of State Service, the Institute of Regional Problems, the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Fund for Development of Regional Policy, the Russian Public Political Center, and the Institute of Modern Policy.

The analysts also estimated the chances of incumbent governors to be reappointed by the Russian president. Tuleev topped the list, followed by Shaimiev, Moscow Oblast Governor Boris Gromov, and Krasnodar Krai Governor Aleksandr Tkachev. High sociopolitical stability, personal popularity, and firm relations with the Kremlin are considered necessary conditions for the success.

Latin Front Growing
A meeting of coordinating council of the Latin Front organization will be held in Kazan in early January, former State Duma Deputy and front leader Fendes Safiullin told Tatarinform on 5 January. Safiullin said 63 civic groups from four Russian regions as well as the National Cultural Autonomy of Tatars of Russia and the All-Ukrainian Tatar Cultural Center Tugan Tel (Native Language) have joined the front so far. In Tatarstan, the World Tatar Congress, the Megarif educational organization, the Institute of History and the Institute of Language, Literature, and Art of Tatarstan's Academy of Sciences, Milli Mejlis, and Tatar PEN Center have joined the Latin Front. The front is calling for the study of the Latin Tatar script and its practical use in printing, libraries, on the Internet, and correspondence. The meeting agenda also includes the issue of preparing for celebrations of International Native Language Day on 21 February at the initiative of UNESCO. It has been suggested that Tatar newspapers print editions that day only in the Latin script.

Human Rights Leader Assesses Call-Up Campaign
The director of Tatarstan's Center for Peacekeeping and Human Rights Actions, German Aletkin, briefed media representatives on 6 January about the results of a hot line devoted to a call-up campaign and the sending of draftees into alternative civil service, Tatar-inform reported the same day. Aletkin said 430 republican residents have contacted the center through the hot line since it was launched on 20 September. Of the appeals, 284 were linked to the health issue, while about 10 callers, including deserters, complained of harassment. Some 20 people were sent into alternative civil service. Aletkin said applicants for alternative civil service faced a more humane attitude in the past call-up campaign, and not only religious beliefs but also pacifistic principles were taken into account. He also said call-up centers were equipped with telephones and draftees were able to telephone their parents.

Restoration Of Orthodox Buildings On Government's Agenda
Tatar Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva met on 5 January with Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan to discuss the restoration of Orthodox buildings, including the Lady Day Cathedral and the Kizicheskii Monastery, and preparations for the 450th anniversary of the Kazan Eparchy, Tatar-Inform reported the same day. Over 132 million rubles ($4.7 million) was spent the previous year on restoration of the Lady Day Cathedral in the Kazan Kremlin. The cathedral is due to be opened in July. The meeting participants stressed the necessity to look for charitable donations and other sources of financing for the reconstruction.

Two Uzbek Citizens Killed In Kazan
Kazan police are searching for the killer or killers of two Uzbek citizens, whose bodies were found on 7 January in a cafe in the Kazan Yanga-Savin Raion, Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 8 January, citing the Tatar Interior Ministry's press service. The men, 20 and 38, were both hit over the head and stabbed in the chest. Both worked as cooks in the cafe and lived in Kazan illegally.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

WEEKLY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Tatar Leader In Bashkortostan Sums Up 2004, Outlines Tasks For 2005...
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 1 January, the head of Bashkortostan's union of Tatar organizations and Tatarstan's representative to Bashkortostan, Ramil Bignov, said 2004 was a successful year for Bashkortostan's Tatars as it was a year of uniting Bashkortostan's Tatar civic groups. A congress of the Tatar people was held, a decision was passed to hold a referendum on the status of the Tatar language in Bashkortostan, and the establishment of the National Cultural Autonomy of Bashkortostan's Tatars is close to done, Bignov added. He said local Tatar national-cultural autonomies have been formed in 34 raions of the republic and the regional organizing forum was held in Moscow to set up the republican body. Bashkortostan's Tatars were forced to hold their event in Moscow by republican authorities, who prohibited the forum in the republic, Bignov said, adding that this led Tatars to complain at the federal level about their problems in Bashkortostan. Bignov also said that promoting a higher status for Tatar and the development of Tatar education in the republic are major tasks for the new year.

...As Tatar Organizations Award 'Honorary' Titles
Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center leader Airat Gynietullin told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 1 January that the republic's union of Tatar organizations labeled Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov's promise he gave during the December 2003 presidential campaign to revise the status of Tatar in Bashkortostan as "the lie of the year." Following his reelection, Rakhimov said the Tatar language's status will never be revised. At a meeting of Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress Executive Committee on 17 December, Gynietullin continued, Chairman Eduard Khemitov responded to committee members who promoted Tatars' rights at the meeting by suggesting that they "go to hell." For this, Khemitov, who is the rector of Bashkir State Pedagogical University and a doctor of pedagogical science, was labeled "the pedagogue of the year."

TV Analyst Calls For Abolition Of National Republics
In a comment published by kremlin.org on 3 January, ORT political observer Mikhail Leontev backed President Vladimir Putin's recently approved reform abolishing elections for regional leaders in favor of Kremlin nominations. Leontev said Russia's current administrative-territorial division is "completely unnatural." Russian federalism, he continued, is "thought up" and currently functions as a "big, global provocation against the country."

Leontev also praised the administrative reform as a step toward a merger of regions "to the degree that they become manageable." Leontev called ethnic republics an "absurd creation of Leninism," adding that they should be abolished. He said he believes that "no true ethnic republics have existed for a long time," since they are "either multiethnic or transnational [entities] in general." Leontev said that it would be necessary to revise the borders of ethnic republics or to create ethnic republics in other places -- for example, in Moscow -- on an annual basis in order to keep up with demographic factors. Or "it would be necessary to change the territory of Bashkiria, which is populated predominantly by Tatars," he said.

Opposition Newspapers Driven Out Of Republic
Nurmokhemmet Gylajetdinov, editor in chief of "Birskaya gazeta" founded last April, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 4 January that the Bashkortostan's Boro (Birsk) printing house still refuses to print the opposition newspaper, which is being published in Perm Oblast. An open letter to the newly appointed Boro administration head to permit its publication in that city remains unanswered, Gylajetdinov said. The town's previous administration head and his deputies -- who were recently dismissed -- initiated a halt to newspaper's printing in Perm Oblast's Barda Raion printing house after the first four issues, which contained articles critical of Boro authorities. The newspaper was forced into a two-month hiatus before reaching an agreement with a printing house in the town of Chernushka in Perm Oblast, where 10 more issues have been published.

Victim Of Blagoveshchensk Police Raid Leaves Hospital...
Bashkortostan resident Aleksei Raschesov, who was severely injured during a raid by Bashkortostan's Interior Ministry forces in Blagoveshchensk on 10-14 December (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004 and 3 January 2005) has been released from the hospital, Regnum reported on 5 January. Raschesov, 29, was arrested on 11 December and taken to an Interior Ministry department where he was hit in the stomach and received a traumatic rupture of the bladder. He was hospitalized and had surgery, after which he was kept in intensive care for six days.

Bashkortostan's branch of For Human Rights coordinator Vyacheslav Bikbulatov told Regnum that Raschesov has not yet given a written deposition, although he gave testimony while in hospital about the circumstances of his beating. Raschesov has also not been given either notification about the filing of a criminal case on his beating or undergone any forensic medical examination. Bikbulatov said human rights activists will pass his application to the prosecutor's office themselves.

...As Interior Ministry Officers Offer Apologies
In the meantime, Blagoveshchensk Interior Ministry officers visited the apartments of victims of the 10-14 raid to offer their apologies, Regnum reported on 5 January. People whose cars were seized and impounded said they were visited personally by the Interior Ministry's Blagoveshchensk branch head, who apologized and returned the money they paid to get their cars back. It is still unclear, however, how the ministry will compensate for the money and mobile phones seized or destroyed in the raid.

Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy Urges Election Of Local Administration Heads
Bashkortostan's Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy at its meeting on 5 January discussed organizing measures on collecting signatures for electing the heads of local administrations in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. According to Bashkortostan's law on local administrations that came into force on 28 December, general elections of local administration heads will only be held if signatures of 3 percent of residents are collected to back it. Otherwise, candidates will be nominated by the Bashkir president and ratified by local legislatures. Under the law, signatures should be collected within a month after the law takes effect. The meeting appointed people to collect signatures in the republic's raions.

Bashkir State Assembly By-Elections Slated For March
Bashkortostan's Central Election Commission passed a resolution scheduling the by-election of State Assembly deputies among the republic's three electoral districts for 27 March, Regnum reported on 5 January. Residents of the Ufa Inorsovskii electoral district should elect a deputy to replace Ufa Motor-Building Plant General Director Valerii Lesunov, who died in December. In the capital's Zheleznodorozhnyi and Davlekanovo Raion's Aslykul electoral districts, vacancies will be filled that were left open by the departures of Nikolai Protasov, former head of Kuibyshev Railways in Bashkortostan, and Khemit Mewliyerov, former general director of Bashkortostanneftezavodstroi construction company, respectively. Both were appointed to executive-authority posts and cannot remain in the legislature under republican law.

Bashkir Interior Ministry Denies Allegations By Human Rights Activists
Bashkir Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov told Regnum on 6 January that none of what human rights activists have alleged over a raid in Blagoveshchensk on 10-14 December is true, adding that such groups have "inflated" events (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004 and 3 and 6 January 2005). He singled out statements by the For Human Rights movement's coordinator in Bashkortostan, Vyacheslav Bikbulatov, and branch head Ildar Isengulov. Sherefetdinov charged that those two men's statements cast doubt on their competence. Sherefetdinov said that 280 people were administratively detained during the authorities' crackdown that followed 8 December violence against security forces. Most of those detained were cited for disturbing the peace or public drunkenness, he added.

Regnum reported on 6 January that five employees of the Russian Interior Ministry arrived in Bashkortostan on 5 January to join a special commission investigating allegations that Blagoveshchensk security officials exceeded their authority during the raid.

Ufa Pensioners Mark 100th Anniversary Of Bloody Sunday
Some 3,000 Ufa pensioners rallied on 9 January in front of the State Assembly building to mark the 100th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Bashinform reported the same day. On 9 January 1905, over 1,000 St. Petersburg workers were killed and some 2,000 injured after tsarist troops opened fire on a peaceful demonstration. Yesterday, the rally was organized by the Bashkir branch of the Communist Party, the Ufa Municipal Committee, the Russian Communist Labor Party, and the republican branch of Russia's Communist Youth Union. Participants at the rally also protested recent social reforms and growing tariffs for housing and municipal services.

Three Arrested After Recent Attack On Police Officers
Two Blagoveshchensk residents have been arrested in connection with an alleged assault on five Blagoveshchensk police officers (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004 and 3, 6, and 7 January 2005) on 8 December 2004, Regnum reported on 8 January, citing the Bashkir Interior Ministry press service. Viktor Geroev, 34, and Rinat Islamov, 41, were detained, and a third man, Oleg Kataev, 34, was detained and released on the condition that he not live in the area where the investigation into the incident is taking place. The men are accused of assault and hooliganism. Three police officers were hospitalized in the incident.

Interior Ministry Forms Human Rights Watchdog
Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev has signed an order to set up a public watchdog monitoring the police's adherence to human rights standards, Regnum reported on 8 January. Fetkhlislam Toqumbetov, a deputy interior minister in charge of human resources, was appointed council chairman and State Assembly deputy Edvard Murzin was nominated deputy chairman. The council will be charged with fomenting constructive dialogue between the ministry and human rights activists and cooperating with Bashkir residents. The first session of the body is due to be held between 10 and 20 January and will be devoted to recent events in Blagoveshchensk and developing mechanisms of cooperation between the ministry and the public.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

WEEKLY REVIEW FROM IDEL-URAL REGION
RFE/RL's Marii-El Correspondent Beaten Up
Yelena Rogacheva told Interfax on 9 January that she believes the attack on her on 7 January in the Marii-El capital of Ioshkar-Ola is linked to her professional activity. Rogacheva said the three men who attacked her did not take anything from her but just beat and threatened to kill her if she goes to the police about the incident. Rogacheva said she did not go to the police because she cannot identify the attackers and does not believe they will be caught.

Human Rights Defenders Accuse Marii-El Authorities Of Torture
The Marii-El human rights organization Person and Law on 28 December issued a brochure entitled "Zarechnyi Syndrome" concerning torture in law enforcement bodies, Regnum reported on 5 January. The report includes materials about public investigations of human rights violations by Interior Ministry personnel in 2003-04. It targets particularly the Ioshkar-Ola Zarechnyi Interior Ministry. Most of the human rights violations are against teenagers, according to the report. An anonymous survey among Ioshkar-Ola secondary-school students revealed that 60 percent of respondents had dealt with policemen and were subjected to physical intimidation. Person and Law co-Chairman Sergei Poduzov noted that the organization has is cooperating with the public council at the Marii-El directorate of the Justice Ministry's punishment department and the Ioshkar-Ola prosecutor's office.

Nizhnii Novgorod Serviceman Dies In Krasnodar
The Military Prosecutor's Office of the North Caucasus Military District issued a statement saying the Krasnodar Garrison Military Prosecutor's Office filed a criminal case in connection with the death on 1 January of Anatolii Bykov, who was drafted from Nizhnii Novgorod in late December, Regnum reported on 6 January. The statement said that according to preliminary data, Bykov committed suicide, adding that he was not subject to harassment. An unnamed officer from Bykov's unit said that after New Year's celebrations, Bykov threw himself out of a bathroom window and was hospitalized, Regnum reported on 5 January. Asked by the officer what had happened, Bykov said he didn't remember. Bykov died the same day of internal bleeding. The news agency also quoted unnamed representatives of the Collective Activity Institute on 5 January as saying fellow party members of Bykov, who was a member of the Communist Youth Union, do not believe he committed suicide.

Samara Pensioners Block Street To Protest Benefit Reform
Over 300 pensioners blocked one of main roads in Samara on 10 January to protest the abolition of free use of city transport that came into effect on 1 January, Regnum reported the same day. After two hours, police persuaded the protesters to unblock the motorway. According to a resolution by the Samara administration, monetary compensation for the abolished benefit will be enough to pay for 18 trips.

Candidates For Saratov Oblast Governor Named
Members of the Unified Russia party's Saratov branch told a press conference at the local state broadcasting headquarters on 31 December that presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko has formed a list of candidates for Saratov Oblast governor, Regnum reported on 6 January. The list includes incumbent Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov, State Duma Deputy Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Engels Mayor Mikhail Lysenko, and Saratov Oblast Chief Federal Inspector Rinat Khalikov.

Udmurt Court Rules Against Udmurtenergo
Udmurtia's Arbitration Court on 30 December prohibited Udmurtenergo from limiting or stopping the transmission of electricity through the Nizhnovatomenergosbyt network and ordered it to cut off or restrict the electricity supply to the Bummash company, the Den information agency reported on 5 January. The verdict came after a lawsuit by Nizhnovatomenergosbyt contesting the attempt by the Udmurt energy provider to halt the agreement to supply electricity to Nizhnovatomenergosbyt consumers. Nizhnovatomenergosbyt is one of two alternative electricity suppliers to the Udmurt market. Analysts described the attempt by Udmurtenergo to cancel the contract with Nizhnovatomenergosbyt as its last attempt to maintain its electricity monopoly in Udmurtia.

In early January, Udmurtenergo will be divided into several subdivisions, and the division supplying electricity will have equal rights and conditions with independent providers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

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