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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 15, 2005

15 February 2005
Unified Russia Holds Pro-Presidential Meetings...
In the Chavash capital Cheboksary, 4,000 students took part in a 12 February demonstration under the slogan "Youth for Reforms," which was organized by Unified Russia activists on the city's central square, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 14 February. Not far from it, followers of the Communist Party, Motherland, and the National Bolshevik Party held a protest at which demonstrators called for the dissolution of the State Duma and the dismissal of the federal government. Regnum reported that about 1,500 participants attended the anti-government rally. In Kirov, roughly 7,000 people, according to police estimates, gathered on 12 February to demonstrate in support of the policies of President Vladimir Putin. The demonstration was organized by Unified Russia, Regnum reported. Participants spoke against purported attempts by opposition to destabilize the situation and to halt the implementation of the reform. A similar pro-presidential meeting in Marii-El on 12 February was attended by roughly 10,000 people, Regnum reported.

...As Opposition Continues Protesting Monetization Of Benefits...
In Nizhnii Novgorod, local branches of the Communist Party, the National Bolshevik Party and the Russian Communist Youth Union attracted 5,000 people to their demonstration against the social-benefits reform, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 14 February. On Penza's Soviet Square, about 1,000 Communist supporters joined a rally to protest the monetization of benefits and to call for the dismissal of the Russian government and the resignation of President Putin. At the same square, an unspecified number of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) followers held their own rally at which they backed the abolition of in-kind benefits but called for larger compensation payments.

The same day, Unified Russia held a meeting on Penza's Lenin Square to express support for Putin and the reform on monetization. Police estimated that demonstration at 5,000 participants. Some 10 representatives of the human rights group Memorial picketed on Fountain Square in Penza on 12 February to defend the rights of rehabilitated victims of political repression in the implementation of the benefits reform. In Saratov, a demonstration organized by the Communist Party and Yabloko against monetization involved 2,500 participants, while a counterdemonstration held by Unified Russia gathered 1,500 people.

In Udmurtia's capital, Izhevsk, the number of demonstrators against the reforms totaled 8,000-9,000, the Den news agency reported. Pensioners protested together with representatives of trade unions of teachers, doctors, and defense-industry workers. Udmurtia President Aleksandr Volkov was presented an ultimatum demanding that the republican budget be amended to improve living conditions and otherwise threatening to raise the issue of Volkov's resignation and the dismissal of Udmurtia State Council deputies.

...Call-Up For Students...
The Yabloko youth branch in Samara protested on 11 February against a reported plan by the Defense Ministry to annul military-service deferments for students attending higher-educational institutions and for postgraduates. They also called for an end to the draft in general.

...And Gasoline Price Hikes
Sverdlovsk Oblast's Pervouralsk administration head Vitalii Volf forbade bus drivers from holding a demonstration against gasoline price hikes that was scheduled for 13 February, Regnum reported on 14 February. The mayor argued that a procession of buses could present a danger to town residents. Organizers plan to appeal the mayor's decision in court.

Three Tarasovs Take Part In Chelyabinsk Mayoral Elections
The Chelyabinsk City Election Commission on 12 February stopped accepting applications from candidates in the 20 March mayoral race in Chelyabinsk, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 15 February. Six people will vie for the post, including incumbent Mayor Vyacheslav Tarasov; Signal state-owned company chief designer Mikhail Kotelnikov, who is supported by the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; and Kapital company Director Oleg Golikov. Two more Tarasovs -- Nizhnii Tagil pensioner Vyacheslav Tarasov and Chelyabinsk Oblast's private security-company worker Aleksandr Tarasov -- have paid the registration fee of 750,000 rubles ($27,000). Registration of candidates will be finished on 18 February.

Skinheads Convicted Of Murder
The Saratov Oblast Court convicted four skinheads on 11 February of ethnically motivated murder, Interfax-Povolzhe reported the same day, citing the court. In the summer of 2004, some 10 teenagers beat to death 39-year-old Daghestan resident Dzhavad Sheikhov. A court representative said only four of the teens where charged, while the rest testified as witnesses. The court sentenced Mikhail Krasnoshchekov and Aleksandr Shvetsov to 13 years' imprisonment, while the two other convicts, who were minors when they committed the murder, were sentenced to 5 1/2 years' and six years' imprisonment. During the investigation, Krasnoshchekov admitted that he killed the man because of his "hatred toward 'the blacks' who beat and oppressed him before." Jury trial members ruled on 9 February that the defendants are guilty but called for indulgence toward them.

Deaths Of Five Newborns Under Investigation
The prosecutor's office in the Sverdlovsk Oblast city of Asbest has filed a criminal case in connection with the January deaths of five newborns in a city maternity hospital, Uralinformbyuro reported on 9 February. The suit was filed under a Criminal Code article punishing "causing death by carelessness resulting from the improper carrying out of one's professional duties."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova