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Activists Seek Bashkortostan President's Ouster

7 April 2005 -- Activists from the central Russian republic of Bashkortostan flew to Moscow today to call for the removal of Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov.

Roughly 200 activists planned to deliver a petition to the Kremlin that they claim carries 100,000-plus signatures. Opponents accuse Rakhimov of human rights abuses and corruption.

The group has official permission to hold a demonstration today outside the Moscow headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Ramil Bignov, a senior member of an umbrella opposition coalition, has described the protest as a call for Rakhimov's departure and an effort to draw Moscow's attention to the republic's problems.

President Rakhimov has ruled the predominantly Muslim republic since 1993. Russian President Vladimir Putin backed his reelection in 2003.

Bashkortostan's opposition plans to erect a tent city near the presidential-administration building in Ufa on 1 May as part of its continuing campaign of protests.

A four-day security operation in the Bashkir city of Blagoveshchensk left hundreds of locals alleging that they had been beaten or abused, heightening public dissatisfaction and prompting rights groups to accuse authorities of gross rights violations.


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