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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 1, 2005

1 February 2005
Tatar Parliament Head Discusses Reform With Duma Speaker
Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin met on 31 January in Moscow with State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov, reported the same day. Mukhametshin informed Gryzlov about measures taken in the republic to implement the law on monetizing in-kind benefits. Development of parliamentarianism and mechanisms of adopting laws aimed at social reforms were also on the agenda.

Public In Tatarstan Most Dissatisfied With Social-Benefits Reform
Meanwhile, Tatarstan tops the list of Russian regions most dissatisfied with the reform of social benefits, followed by Altai Krai and Bashkortostan, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 1 February. Samara Oblast and St. Petersburg rated fourth and fifth, respectively. In Tatarstan, a total of 15,800 people took part in demonstrations against the reforms in January, according to "Kommersant," and 28,600 as estimated by the Center for Research of Political Culture in Russia. In Bashkortostan, the figures were 13,600 and 18,600, respectively. Up to 50 pensioners hold unauthorized demonstrations in Kazan near the Kamal Tatar State Drama Theater every day to demand that in-kind benefits be maintained, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 1 February.

50 People Arrested For Ties To Hizb ut-Tahrir...
Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov told a press conference in Chally that about 50 people, both men and women, have been detained in Tatarstan as part of an investigation of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamist group, Regnum reported on 29 January. Weapons, explosives, and suicide-bomber belts were seized from the suspects. Seferov said that new arrests may be made of people suspected of ties to international extremist organizations.

...As Rights Representative Concerned About Repression Of Muslims
Memorial human rights center activist Vitalii Ponomarev said the decision by the Russian Supreme Court declaring 15 groups terrorist organizations and banning them in Russia "presents a serious threat to the Muslim population of Russia," reported on 31 January, citing "Russkii kurer." The decision was made by the court behind closed doors and still has not been published, according to Ponomarev. "It was lobbied by the FSB [Federal Security Service] under the pretext of fighting terrorism," Ponomarev said, concluding that based on the monitoring ongoing violations of Muslims' rights that the "special services pretend to fight terrorism and if this continues along the same lines, then it will be possible to talk about true repression."

Accusations against members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are completely fabricated since many testimonies were received using force and threats and real proof of their involvement in terrorism have still not been presented, Ponomarev said. The appearance of a series of criminal cases about Hizb ut-Tahrir recruitment is the result of "the inability of special services to counteract terrorists," he said, adding that even in Uzbekistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir has not been officially banned.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

PACE Concerned About Human Rights Violations In Bashkortostan
The Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) released a statement on 28 January in Strasbourg in which it expressed concern about violations of human rights in some regions of Russia, PRIMA-News reported on 31 January. Citing the tide of violence in Bashkortostan, the statement noted the spread of what it called an "atmosphere of impunity" from the Chechen Republic to other regions of the Russian Federation and called for an investigation.

Prosecutors Accuse Interior Officials of Abuse of Power
The head of the Bashkir Prosecutor's Office, Aleksei Kasyanov, told Interfax-Povolzhe on 31 January that accusations of abuse of power have been leveled against two district officers of the Blagoveshchensk Interior Board. Kasyanov said the prosecutor's office has appealed for a warrant to arrest the suspects but that a raion court rejected the appeal. Summons were also issued against the head of the Blagoveshchensk Interior Ministry department, Ildar Ramazanov, for negligence, as well as two employees of the Blagoveshchensk criminal investigation department and a district law-enforcement officer for abuse of power. They did not appear as requested at the prosecutor's office for questioning, so they are now wanted, Kasyanov said. Bashkir Interior Minister Rafael Divaev told the news agency that all Interior Ministry employees who received summonses could not appear as requested due to either "technical complexities" or health reasons and will do so later. "None of them has escaped and none is going to escape," Divaev said.

Motherland Branch Collects 7,000 Signatures In Bashkortostan
The chairman of Motherland in Bashkortostan, Aleksandr Kozlov, told Bashinform on 31 January that some 7,000 signatures have been collected in Bashkortostan in support of five members of the State Duma's Motherland faction, who are holding a hunger strike in Moscow. The Motherland deputies began their strike on 21 January to protest the Russian government's controversial social reforms. They are demanding a repeal of a law that replaces social benefits, such as free public transportation and medical services, with cash payments; the establishment of a commission to investigate the matter; and the dismissal of Russian Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov. One of the hunger strikers, Andrei Savelev, was hospitalized on 28 January.

Sixteen Candidates to Contend For Three State Assembly Mandates
Nominations have ended for Bashkortostan's State Assembly by-elections, due to be held on 27 March in the republic's three electoral districts, Bashinform reported on 31 January, quoting Bashkir Central Election Commission Secretary Naile Altynova. Of 16 candidates contending for three mandates, two were nominated by the Libral Democratic Party of Russia, while 14 are independents. Registration of candidates will be held within 10 days.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova