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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 3, 2005

3 January 2005
Political Analyst Suggests Tatarstan May Become Parliamentary Republic
The head of Kazan State University's Political Science Department, Midkhet Faruqshin, predicted in "Zvezda povolzhya" of 30 December that Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev is unlikely to surrender presidential powers under the administrative reforms initiated by President Vladimir Putin until his current term ends in 2006. Faruqshin suggested that an attempt might instead be made to transform Tatarstan into a parliamentary republic to allow Shaimiev to maintain his prerogatives. Faruqshin said the Kremlin considers Shaimiev a guarantor of stability in Tatarstan, a net donor to the federal budget that regularly secures what Faruqshin called the "required" results in elections, especially federal ones. Asked about the chances of Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov becoming the republican leader, Faruqshin said some members of Putin's administration support Iskhaqov but others back Shaimiev; the result, he predicted, will depend on the distribution of such supporters and opponents.

Tatar, Bashkir Leaders Tumble In 'Kommersant-Daily' Ranking Of Russian Elite
Tatarstan President Shaimiev appeared in the 64th spot on the "Kommersant-Daily" ranking of Russian elite that was published on 30 December, down from 35th the previous year. Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov shares 158th place with 24 participants, down from the previous year's 122nd place. The VTsIOM poll was conducted on 20-21 November with 1,555 respondents among Russia's 39 oblasts, krais, and republics.

Tatarstan's First Internet Gift Service Launched
Tatarstan's first Internet-based gift and greetings service opened in late December, reported on 31 December. The service, which focuses on orders in the Tatar and Russian languages and offers Tatar national gifts, operates in Kazan as well as several cities and towns of Tatarstan and is represented in Moscow. Its founders plan to spread activities to other regions with sizable Tatar populations. The range of souvenirs provided by the service includes Tatar national souvenirs.

KamAZ Crew Participate In Dakar Rally
Three trucks from the Chally KamAZ-Master team headed by Vladimir Chagin, Firdewes Kebirov, and Ilgizer Merdiev are participating in this year's Dakar rally that began in Barcelona on 31 December, reported the same day. The crew headed by Kebirov was second after the third stage of the rally on 2 January, reported the same day. KamAZ teams have won the prestigious rally several times in the past.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Interior Operation Victims File Lawsuits To Compensate Financial Harm
The civic group For Human Rights coordinator in Bashkortostan, Vyacheslav Bikbulatov, told Regnum on 31 December that some of those who suffered as a result of the security operation in Blagoveshchensk on 10-14 December (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004) are preparing lawsuits against security bodies to cover purported damages. The owners of a cafe in Blagoveshchensk claimed losses after authorities detained guests who had not paid bills, for instance. A group of claimants were arrested while they were driving their cars, which were then impounded. Detainees said mobile telephones and money were seized from them and not returned.

Bashkir Cinematography Presented In Moscow
Bashkortostan's plenipotentiary to Moscow held a party devoted to Bashkir cinematography at the Moscow House of Nationalities in late December, Bashinform reported on 31 December. Members of Moscow's Bashkir diaspora and others interested in Bashkir culture saw films in the Bashkir language at the event.

New Year's Holiday Brings Fire Losses
Five people died and one was injured in 18 separate fires that struck across Bashkortostan on the night of 31 December, Bashinform reported the next day. Twenty-eight people were rescued. On 1 January, 24 fires claimed nine lives across the republic. Firemen rescued 120 people on 1 January.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova