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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 8, 2002

8 November 2002
Memorial In Germany Presents Exposition Devoted To Tatar Anti-Fascists
A delegation led by Tatarstan Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva took part in a ceremony to unveil a new exhibition at the German Resistance Memorial Center at Plotzensee, Germany, where those who resisted the Nazi regime were tried and executed, Tatar-inform reported on 1 November. The visitors provided the museum with documents about 11 members of the Jelil-Qormashev group who were sentenced to death in February 1944 "for undermining the military might of the German Reich." It was stressed at the ceremony that opening the exhibition marks a new stage of deepening and broadening contacts between Kazan and Berlin and between German and Tatar museums.

The delegation also took part in a roundtable on the problems of the Kaliningrad Oblast and in the fourth Congress of the Russian Press, organized by ITAR-TASS together with the Russian Science and Culture House. Deputy Prime Minister Welieva said Kaliningrad Oblast is of humanitarian and economic interest to Tatarstan. Welieva met with Russia's ambassador to Germany, Sergei Krylov, to discuss the current state of and prospects for cultural cooperation between Russia and Germany and the role of Tatarstan in that process. Welieva held a reception attended by officials from the Russian Embassy in Germany, the Russian Science and Culture House, and leaders of the Berlin Friends of Peoples of Russia group and the Resistance Memorial. Tatar delegation members laid a wreath at the site where Tatar opponents of fascism were executed.

Mirzayanov Refused Visa For Allegedly Disclosing 'State Secret'
The Russian Foreign Ministry informed chemist and dissident Vil Mirzayanov that his visa was annulled because his memoirs divulge state secrets in some 30 instances, "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 1 November. The former Soviet chemist and current U.S. citizen was recently turned away from the Kazan airport by federal customs authorities after arriving to take part in a presentation of his memoirs, entitled "The Challenge" (see "Tatar-Bashkir Daily Report," 24 October 2002). The document from the ministry was given to Mirzayanov by pilots of a jet that was flying from Kazan to Frankfurt. The paper said Russian special services apparently deem as state secrets information about the relocation of military plants, people working in the military's chemistry sector, quotes from "secret" protocols of the "Mirzayanov case," and other similar "leaks" that were likely published elsewhere long ago.

Official Warns Of More Frequent Industrial Accidents
Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Minzahit Jihanshin said 117 people died and 3,483 were injured in industrial accidents in Tatarstan in 2001, "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 6 November. Jihanshin was delivering a report at a joint meeting of the Emergency Situations Ministry and the Labor Ministry. He said a boiler explosion at the Mendeleevskii Chemical Plant Tatazot killed three employees, and four workers of the Buinsk Sugar Plant died of chemical burns the previous year. In the first nine months of 2002, 106 people died in the workplace in industrial accidents, a majority of them in heavy industry and the construction sector. The death rate has doubled in those sectors in the past three years, the official said. Jihanshin said there are 700 dangerous sites and hundreds of kilometers of highly explosive pipeline at which equipment is aged. He said chemical- and oil-processing enterprises have not undergone major repairs for 30 years.

Tire Production Exceeds 1 Million For October
Production at the Nizhnekamskshina tire company exceeded 1 million units in October for the first time in the past decade (1.1 million), Tatar-inform reported on 5 November. The same quantity, representing 1.8 billion rubles ($56.6 million) worth of tires, was sold by the Kama Trade House in the same month.

TIU In Chally Calls For End To Chechen War
The Tatar Public Center in Chally appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, and State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev to stop bloodshed in Chechnya and begin peace talks, Tatar-inform reported on 5 November. The appeal's authors called the recent Moscow hostage taking an episode in the continuing war, suggesting Chechens were forced to initiate the protest action "with the only aim of stopping the war."

Tuben Kama Head Deemed Best Mayor In Russia
Tuben Kama Mayor Ilsur Metshin was granted on 5 November the Russian National Olympus premium as the best mayor of Russia, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily reported on 6 November. The prize is distributed by a jury that includes former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Noble Prize winner Zhores Alferov. In 2001, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev was nominated "president of the year."

Chally Draftees Provided Additional Meals
The Chally administration has established a fitness camp for some 300 young men who were deemed underweight for military service, reported on 8 November. The draftees will be put on high-calorie diets and undergo military and physical training. The city budget allocated 500,000 rubles ($15,700), or 100 rubles ($3.1) a day per attendee, which is 3.5 times the spending on rations for army soldiers. After 12 November, the young men will undergo regular medical examinations.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Press Focuses On Constitutional And State System Reform...
The "Kyzyl Tang" daily wrote on 30 October that the "Bashkir government's efforts for elaborating a new constitutional draft" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 October, 6,7 November 2002) to replace the one which was adopted only two years ago were shows in its "hopelessness before Moscow's pressure and willingness to preserve at least at some small extent" of it. The paper added that the government "could confine itself to correcting only those constitutional provisions objected to by the federal prosecutors, but this would make the fundamental law more like an overpatched old blanket. So the government chose a revolutionary way by entering the amendments requested by Moscow and altering the entire system of government [by introducing a parliamentary republic instead of the presidential one]."

Meanwhile, according to an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 3 November, Bashkortostan's press had been focusing on government reform rather than other changes to the future constitution. The press is publishing numerous interviews with local public figures, state officials, and even common people expressing strong support and gratitude to the government for plans to establish a parliamentary republic in Bashkortostan. Moreover, the 30 October issue of the daily "Bashkortostan" pronounced that the possible election of President Murtaza Rakhimov as a speaker of the reformed parliament would be "a strong sign of hope not only for Bashkirs, but also for people of other nationalities."

...As Public Figures Seem To Have Reached An Agreement Approving Both
Viktor Rezyapov, leader of the Russian Social Democracy party branch in Bashkortostan, told Bashinform on 5 November that he approved of the future introduction of the parliament-rule system of government because it will "soften" the ruling regime with the help of democratic reforms.

Vyacheslav Mukhametshin, head of the centrist Unified Russia party's political council in Bashkortostan's city of Oktyabrskii, told the same agency that in his opinion, "Bashkortostan doesn't need a strong presidential authority any more," and the abolition of the presidential staff would put an end to parallelism in the management of state affairs and cut state expenses on bureaucracy."

Meanwhile, Aleksandr Philippov, chief editor of the weekly "Istoki," told the agency that he was in favor of preserving the presidential post in Bashkortostan, "because by liquidating it we would cross out everything that was accomplished in this post by Murtaza Gubaidullovich. His personality is a guarantee to the residents of our republic that it would develop taking into account the people's interests and not just following the [federal] center's dictate."

Zoefer Yenikeev, a deputy in the Bashkir State Assembly, commented on this statement by saying that the parliamentary form of government is efficiently operating in Daghestan and "therefore there are no reasons for fearing that with the transition Bashkortostan would lose much of what was gained in the years of presidential form of government."

Most Of Bashkortostan's Youth Manage To Avoid Draft
Only 7,500 recruits were selected for joining the Russian Army during this year's autumn call-up out of the 41,500 people of recruiting-age in Bashkortostan, RosBalt reported on 6 November, citing the republic's Military Commissioner's Office. Most of the potential draftees reportedly were freed from obligatory service temporarily until they graduate from college or in the case of poor health. Some 2,800 recruits will reportedly be sent to an infantry, 2,000 to the troops of the Interior Ministry, some 609 to the navy, 396 to a rocket force, 380 to space-military troops, 224 to an airborne battalion, 105 to the Ministry of Emergencies, and 26 to the construction troops.

Relatives Of Plane Crash Victims Reportedly Refusing Insurance Payments
Yurii Shpizel, general director of the Russian Sotsinvest insurance company, told RosBalt on 6 November that the families of 49 passengers killed in the mid-air crash of a Bashkir Airlines' passenger carrier with a DHL cargo jet over southwestern Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July, 6 November 2002) refused to accept the $20,000 insurance payments from his company for each of their loved ones lost because they were convinced to do so by their foreign lawyers. Shpizel said that relatives of the collision victims "wrongfully feared that accepting the compensation from Sotsinvest would prevent them from getting compensation from the guilty parties and Bashkir Airlines, which they [also] consider to be the circumstantially guilty party."

Russian Foreign Ministry To Help Bashkortostan Teach Experts In Foreign Relations
Bashkir State University (BGU) rector Mokhemmet Kharrasov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's official representative in Ufa, Zinnur Mardanov, and Bashkir Minister of Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Trade Boris Kolbin on 6 November signed a trilateral treaty on training Bashkir experts in international relations and foreign economic affairs at BGU from 2002-2007, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Opposition Media Outlets Refused Publishing Services In Marii El
The Marii El Yaran publishing house warned six of the republic's opposition newspapers -- "Yoshkar-Ola," "Kudo+Kodu," "Narodnaya gazeta," "Dobre sosedi," "Pravo," and "Sam sebe advokat" -- that it will no longer print their papers because they contain criticism of republic authorities, Privolzhe news agency reported on 1 November. Publishing houses in Tatarstan and Chavashia have also refused to print the newspapers, the agency said, adding that an agreement exists between the leadership of the neighboring republics that their publishing houses won't print editions criticizing local authorities.

State To Sell MMK Shares
Selling the state's 17 percent stake in the Magnitogorskii Metallurgy Group of Enterprises (MMK) in 2003 is more than possible, MMK Deputy General Director Aleksei Rudchenko said on 4 November, UralBusinessConsulting reported the same day. Rudchenko said the MMK leadership would like the stake to become the property of MMK's affiliates and friendly companies. Rudchenko said selling MMK shares would complete privatization in the ferrous-metallurgy industry. MMK is the last large metallurgy company in Russia in which the state still owns a large stake.

Human Rights Group Protests Ethnic Discrimination During Antiterrorist Operation
The Nizhnii Novgorod Human Rights Association issued a statement to express its discontent with human rights violations during the Whirlwind antiterror campaign, reported on 5 November. The group said: "All orders and resolutions of law enforcement bodies that contain signs of ethnic discrimination and segregation contradict basic constitutional and legal principles and are illegal. Actions of officials as regards specific categories of citizens defined by ethnic or national signs, including checking documents, searching persons or means of transport, or checking residents in their living places, are illegal. Officials that caused harm to the rights and interests of citizens because of their nationality, language, birth, property or employment, place of living, religion, convictions, or membership in public associations should be held criminally responsible."

Prosecutor Accuses Samara Oblast's Titov Of Abuse Of Power
Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Vladimir Kolesnikov told a press conference on 6 November in Samara that prosecutors "uncovered abuse of power in the actions of Samara Oblast Governor Konstantin Titov," reported the same day. Titov was interrogated during the investigation of a case of the alleged theft of 60 billion rubles worth of cars by leaders of LogoVAZ in 1994-95 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 13 September 2002). Kolesnikov said new cases of embezzlement were uncovered and more than 30 criminal cases have been filed in the investigation.

Attempt Upon Saratov Official
Saratov City Duma Secretary Igor Zakharov was injured and hospitalized in intensive care in critical condition on 4 November, Privolzhe reported the next day. Zakharov was stabbed five times by unknown persons near his house as he was returning in the evening. Nothing was stolen. A year ago, an attempt was made upon the life of Saratov Oblast Pugachev Raion administration head Vladimir Zubov during which he was injured when a grenade fixed to a door of his house exploded. No suspects have so far been arrested.

Will Soviet-Era Oblast Names Be Changed?
Several oblasts in Russia -- Kaliningrad, Kirov, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, and Ulyanovsk oblasts -- could be renamed in a new draft Russian Constitution, Novyi region reported on 1 November citing "Bulleten regionalnoi informatsii." Historical names are now used in some of them in parallel with the official names that reflect ideological realities of the Soviet times -- Vyatka and Vyatskii Krai in place of Kirov and Kirov Oblast, Simbirsk in place of Ulyanovsk, while in Kaliningrad, Leningrad, and Sverdlovsk oblasts no appropriate alternative names have so far been found. The agency said several other regions could be renamed in the new constitution using historical names that are currently widely used -- Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug into Yugorskii Krai, Magadan Oblast into Kokymskii Krai, and Arkhangelsk Oblast into Pomorskii Krai.

Adoption of a new constitution will be one of the tasks of Russian President Vladimir Putin's next presidential term, should he win the 14 March 2004 presidential elections, the agency said. Meanwhile, Federation Council Senator from Sverdlovsk Oblast Valerii Trushnikov said on 1 November that media reports about plans to rename Sverdlovsk Oblast in a new edition of the Russian Constitution are not reliable, Uralinformbureau reported the same day. Trushnikov said Federation Council senators do not have any documents proving that a new version of Russia's Constitution is being developed or any intention to rename federation subjects.

TsDUM Withdraws Fundamentalist Literature Throughout Russia
Copies of 84 books by Islamic authors that were declared "sectarian" and "fundamentalist" have been withdrawn from libraries of more than 2,500 local Muslim communities subordinate to the Central Muslim Religious Board of Russia and the European Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (TsDUM), reported on 6 November, citing The list of "fundamentalist literature" was composed by a commission on Islamic literature established by TsDUM. Commission member and rector of the Ufa Islamic University Renat Raev said the body is charged with "establishing order in the flow of religious literature" that is delivered from abroad or is printed in the country.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova