16 August 2005
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Federal Finance Ministry Says Moscow Winding Up Investment Program In Tatarstan
Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said after an inspection of
Kazan's public transport, industrial infrastructure, concert and
sports venues, the environment, and housing on 6 August that problems
targeted by federal and republican investment ahead of the millennial
celebrations in Tatarstan's capital have been resolved. The
investments came within the republic's 2001-06
socioeconomic-development and millennial-celebration plans. After the
celebrations, Kudrin said, Kazan and Tatarstan will share the cost of
finishing projects to build social facilities. The federal government
will also transfer 6.5 billion rubles ($224 million) to complete the
federal program for Tatarstan's development. In the future, Tatarstan
will reportedly be allowed to seek further federal investment through
a special government investment fund, on equal terms with other
regions in the Russian Federation.Kazan, St. Petersburg Discuss Monumental Mixup; Resolution Later Emerges
Visiting St. Petersburg's deputy governor, Aleksandr Vakhmistrov, told
reporters on 4 August that Kazan's authorities will make their own
decision over whether to decorate the newly opened St. Petersburg
Street with a monument to Peter the Great, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau
reported the next day. Prior to that statement, Kazan Mayor Kamil
Iskhakov publicly shared his concern over local residents' responses
-- some of whom view Peter as a symbol of oppression suffered by
Muslims in Russia, he noted, while others view him as an organizer of
the first admiralty in Kazan, which helped to usher in economic
prosperity from trade routes. Vakhmistrov said his administration
"will not interfere" in the monument affair, he vowed. Two days later,
on 6 August, Kazan Deputy Mayor Elfie Tutaeva told a news conference
that St. Petersburg Street will house a monument to St. Petersburg
native Lev Gumilev, a renowned researcher of Turkic history.Tatar Public Figures Advocate Detained Turkish Religious Group
Following the Federal Security Service's (FSB) arrest in Kazan and
Chally of activists from the Islamic religious group Nurcilar on
charges of religious extremism, prominent Tatar historian and
ethnologist Damir Iskhakov said in an interview by RFE/RL's Kazan
bureau on 8 August that he considers the group to be "one of the most
peaceful and tolerant."
Iskhakov also mentioned the origins of the group, which emerged during
a time in Turkey of strong regulations against Islam when the party
struggled for a more secular role for Islam. Iskhakov's opinion is
reportedly shared by the imam of newly opened Qol Serif Mosque, Ramil
khezret Yunis, and Damir Shegeliev, a theology expert on the religious
affairs board of Tatarstan's cabinet, who reportedly claim there are
no expressions of extremism in Nurcilar's literature.Russian Trade And Economic Development Minister Visits Tatarstan
Russian Trade and Economic Development Minister German Gref arrived in
Tatarstan on 9 August for meetings with President Mintimer Shaimiev,
top government officials, and republican industrial leaders, RFE/RL's
Kazan bureau reported the same day. Presenting a report on Tatarstan's
major economic priorities, Shaimiev told Gref that republican
investment since 2005 have been predominantly oriented toward oil
processing rather than extraction. As a result, the republic
reportedly contributes 10 percent of the national petrochemical
production and 15-20 percent of total investments in that sector
Also on 9 August, Gref visited the Chally facilities of automaker
KamAZ to discuss the possible sale of a state-owned stake in that
venture in 2006. Gref told reporters that the shares will attract
foreign investment for the concern's development program. He said the
short-term goal for KamAZ management is to take the company public on
Russian and London stock exchanges to secure investment for further
modernization.Head Of Old Believers Church Dies
Andrian, the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Old Believers
Church, died on 11 August and will be buried on 14 August in the
Pokrov Cathedral in Moscow, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 11
August. Before becoming the overall head of the church in Russia,
Adrian had served as the head of the Old Believers Church in Kazan and
his time in office was characterized by the start of a dialogue
between the Old Believers and the Russian Orthodox Church. Prior to
that the two churches did not maintain a relationship due to the
history of the Old Believers being persecuted in Russia since the time
of Peter the Great. According to some Russian media, Andrian's death
may lead to greater self-isolation of the Old Believers, which has
traditionally been a closed community.
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Nine Sentenced Over Participation In Radical Islamic Group...
Bashkortostan's Supreme Court has convicted nine people of membership
of the banned Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, Interfax-Povolzhe
reported on 3 August. Eight received prison sentences of between 3 1/2
years and 8 1/2 years. The other defendant was given a 4 1/2-year
suspended sentence. All of the defendants had acknowledged their
membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir but denied they were guilty of any
crimes, including the establishment of a criminal group for the
purpose of committing serious crimes, involvement in or promotion of
terrorist crimes, or the illegal purchase and possession of arms or
explosive substances....As Rights Activists Report More Fabricated Cases Against Muslims
The chairwoman of the Civic Support Committee, Svetlana Gannushkina,
alleged on 2 August that criminal cases against Islamic extremists
have been fabricated to allow the appearance that such extremism is on
the rise in Russia, islam.ru reported on 4 August. NGO Memorial
representative Vitalii Ponomarev said at the same forum that human
rights activists are following 23 cases in 20 federal regions
involving 80 defendants. Ponomarev added that there is a threat that
the number of such cases will increase, citing a recent statement by
the head of the Federal Security Service's (FSB) antiterrorism board,
who said extremist religious activities have been uncovered in 50
entities of the Russian Federation. Human rights activists have
claimed that Muslims are often accused of "possessing banned
literature," while they said that not a single book has been banned in
Russia and no expertise of seized literature has been sought.
Conference participants also claimed that special services often try
to provoke Muslims or fabricate weapons or narcotics offenses.Interior Ministry Concerned About Discipline Among Employees
Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev told Interfax-Povolzhe on 8
August that the ministry has taken measures to secure discipline and
to prevent and uncover any criminal behavior by law enforcement
officials. Divaev said the issue is on the agenda of an extraordinary
meeting in the ministry on 6 August where "strict" measures will be
developed to strengthen discipline. According to an order by the
minister, all interior employees have been informed that they will be
sacked in case of driving while intoxicated. Divaev added that he
ordered the firing of Reval Ekhmetshin, an employee in Miyaki Raion,
who struck and killed a girl on 25 July while driving drunk. The
leadership of the Interior Ministry appealed to the Prosecutor's
Office to arrest Ekhmetshin, Divaev said. Divaev also said 21 Interior
Ministry employees have been dismissed for other violations so far in
the current year.Rakhimov Pledges Republican Funds For Tatar High School's New Wing
Bashkortostan's President Murtaza Rakhimov has ordered that
construction of a new wing of a Tatar high school in Ufa be completed
by the end of next school year, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported
on 9 August. Rakhimov made his comments during an inspection of the
site. He pledged that the government would allocate 15 million rubles
($527,500) required to finish the project. Rakhimov said every child
should speak his or her mother tongue.
Meanwhile, speaking at a meeting devoted to developing a state program
for preserving and developing the languages of peoples in Bashkortostan, Deputy Prime Minister and Culture and Nationalities Policies Minister Ildus Ileshev stressed the necessity of a new approach to the issue of preservation and developing such languages. Meeting participants generally agreed to finish the draft program by November.
Tatar civic groups in Bashkortostan have so far been unsuccessful in
appealing to officials for measures to preserve and develop the Tatar
language.U.S. Purchases Bashkir Honey
The director of the Scientific Research Institute on Beekeeping and
Apitherapy, Emir Ishemgulov, told RosBalt on 11 August that
Bashkortostan will deliver a test consignment of 20.5 tons of honey to
the United States in late August. Ishemgulov said this is the first
delivery of honey to North America although the institute has taken
part in several exhibits in the U.S. where Bashkir honey received good
reviews. The GM Natural Products Inc. is the American provider of the
contract.Tatar Civic Group Against Mandatory Teaching Of Bashkir In Secondary Schools
Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center (TIU) stated its opposition to
plans to introduce the mandatory teaching of Bashkir in all of the
republic's secondary schools, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on
10 August. The issue was on the agenda of a TIU board meeting on 9
August. Tatar organization activists spoke against amendments to the
republican education law being discussed by the republic parliament
under which Tatar schoolchildren will be obliged to study Bashkir.
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM IDEL-URAL REGION
Marii El Official Wants Evidence Of Opposition's Claims
Marii El Deputy Prime Minister and Culture, Press and Nationalities Affairs Minister Mikhail Vasyutin has demanded that the Mari opposition provide evidence of their claims about the critical state of the indigenous people in the republic and violations of their rights and freedoms, Regnum reported on 11 August, citing the government press service.
Vasyutin signed a corresponding request addressed to Vladimir Kozlov, the head of the all-Mari council Mer Kanash, and Nadezhda Maksimova, the chairwoman of the interregional civic organization Marii Ushem. Vasyutin informed the leaders that "not a single appeal against the violation of the ethnic rights of residents of the Mari nationality has been registered by the Prosecutor's Office or security bodies."Opposition Meeting Banned In Yoshkar-Ola
The Yoshkar-Ola administration refused permission for Marii Ushem to hold an opposition meeting on 14 August in Yoshkar-Ola, Regnum reported on 11 August.
The opposition group, however, still planned to hold an unauthorized meeting against what it calls the worsening socioeconomic conditions and violations of human rights and democracy in the republic. The action was to be held on Nikonov Square in front of the Russian theater. The opposition group also plans to appeal the administration's decision to ban the meeting.NGO Leader Accused Of Extremist Calls In Nizhnii
Stanislav Dmitrievskii, the executive director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (ORChD) and editor in chief of the "Pravo-zashchita" newspaper, was summoned to the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Prosecutor's Office on 11 August on suspicion of calling for extremist action in the mass media, Regnum reported on 9 August, citing the ORChD press service.
The criminal case was filed on 11 January following publication by "Pravo-zashchita" of appeals by late Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov to the European Parliament and by Maskhadov's special representative abroad, Akhmed Zakaev, to the Russian people. On 20 January, Dmitrievskii was interrogated by the Federal Security Service as a witness. Documents containing information about the newspaper's reporters living in Chechnya and their addresses have been withdrawn from the newspaper office.
ORChD activities are financed by the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy with money allocated by the U.S. State Department.Perm Mayor Accused Of Corruption...
The Perm Oblast Prosecutor's Office on 9 August presented accusations that Perm Mayor Arkadii Kamenev had abused his powers, Interfax-Povolzhe reported the same day, citing the Prosecutor's Office press service.
An office spokesperson told the news agency that Kamenev exchanged free commercial office space in exchange for the setting up of a restaurant. His actions reportedly caused the city to lose some 3 million rubles, according to the Prosecutor's Office.
The Perm administration released a statement on 10 August in which Kamenev denied the accusations....As Former Saratov Oblast Minister Arrested
The Saratov Oblast Volga Raion Court approved on 10 August an appeal by the oblast Prosecutor's Office on the arrest of former oblast Transport and Road Construction Minister Gevorg Dzhlavyan, Regnum-VolgaInform reported on 11 August, citing the Prosecutor's Office press service. Dzhlavyan is under investigation for nonpayment of taxes. Prosecutors charge that he tried to pressure witnesses during the investigation.Kidnappers Convicted In Saratov
Saratov's Frunze Raion court issued a verdict in the case of the kidnapping of a schoolgirl who was taken to Chechnya and tortured there, Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 9 August, citing the Saratov Oblast Prosecutor's Office.
Vladimir Kuznetsov and Sergei Khalilov, who were found guilty of kidnapping the daughter of a local businessman in 1999, were each sentenced to eight years in prison. Khalilov, who worked for the interior ministry at the time of the crime, was also deprived of the title of senior sergeant and the state bravery medal reward that he had been previously given. The two demanded $2 million in ransom and sent their request to the girl's father along with one of the girl's fingers. The girl was freed in December 1999 during a special police operation near Shali village in Chechnya.Uralsvyazinform Disconnects 19,000 Telephone Subscribers
The Yekaterinburg branch of Uralsvyazinform disconnected home telephones on 11 August to some 19,000 of its subscribers because of unpaid debts, Interfax-Ural reported the same day, citing the Uralsvyazinform press service.
The total debt of the disconnected subscribers is 5.2 million rubles. Another 7,500 subscribers repaid their 2.2 million ruble debt on the eve of the cutoff, which was conducted under the federal law on communications. As of 1 July, the Yekaterinburg branch had 950,000 subscribers.Udmurt President Called To Court As Witness
Aleksandr Volkov has been summoned to court as a witness in a criminal case on the violation of a federal law on natural monopolies, Regnum reported on 11 August, citing Yekaterina Iutina, the spokesperson of the Federal Antimonopoly service board in Udmurtia (UFAS).
The case was filed by UFAS on 9 August against the state-run company Votkinsk Urban Electricity Networks, which rented out its property to the joint-stock Udmurt Managing Company without agreeing on the issue with the antimonopoly body. Iutina commented that such serious issues couldn't be resolved "without keeping the republican head informed." The hearing on the case was set for 25 August.Udmurtia's Energy System Unprepared For Accidents...
Inspection of Udmurtia's energy system conducted after the May energy crisis in Moscow revealed that the republic isn't read for an emergency situation like the one that occurred in Moscow, Regnum reported on 10 August, citing TVS.
Specifically, a major part of the republic would be left without telephone communication since not all telephone stations have reserve power-supply sources. According to Udmurt Deputy Health Care Minister Vladimir Gavrilov, only 50 percent of the republic's central raion hospitals and 30 percent of republican city and town health-care institutions are equipped with independent power-supply sources. Izhvodokanal Director Anatolii Zadoyannyi said all water purification and septic facilities would not function in case the energy supply is broken....As Udmurtenergo Leaders Disagree
Management at Udmurtenergo has officially denied the report about the company being unprepared for an emergency situation, Regnum reported on 10 August.
The document, signed by Udmurtenergo General Director Mikhail Dralin, said that the republic has several sources from which to receive energy and to reserve power. The company leadership confirmed, however, that many large parts of important social centers in the republic don't have reserve power sources, adding that it is the heads of those institutions that are responsible for providing them.
Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Construction Committee of the Ural Federal District, Aleksandr Loshchenko, said on 10 August that big energy failures are possible in the district as the amortization of equipment has reached 50 percent and should be replaced, Regnum reported the following day.
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova