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Russian Republic Counters Threat Of 'Revolution'

27 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Authorities in Russia's ethnic republic of Bashkortostan have countered opposition talk of a "revolution" by announcing plans to minimize political activity in the region during the upcoming May holidays, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported.

Bashkortostan's Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov released a statement on 25 April saying that his ministry has asked republican law-enforcement agencies to reduce political activity to a minimum from 1-9 May because of a "high risk of acts of terrorism," RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Sherefetdinov said the measures were being taken by local authorities across Russia in connection with the antiterrorism campaign Operation Whirlwind.

Local political opposition groups have declared their intention to hold wide-scale protests against Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov's administration on 1 May.

Opposition leaders Ramil Bignov and Anatolii Dubovskii told journalists on 15 April that a "revolution" would begin on 1 May with a massive demonstration in the republican capital Ufa. They also said that an "orange-colored" tent city would be constructed about 9 kilometers from the republican administration building.

Various meetings calling for Rakhimov's resignation have been held since March. On 27 March, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Ufa. Opposition leader Bignov planned a protest for Moscow on 7 April and chartered a plane to transport demonstrators. The plane was held up at a Bashkortostan airport for five hours, but some 200-300 Bashkir opposition activists managed to gather on Moscow's Lubyanka Square on 8 April to call for Rakhimov's ouster, drawing attention from Russian and international media.

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