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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 3, 2005

3 February 2005
Turkey Plans To Take Part In Kazan Millennium Celebrations
Turkey's State Minister Beshir Atalai said on 2 February that contacts between Turkey and Tatarstan should be intensified as much as possible, Tatar-inform reported.

Atalai, who oversees state-run mass media and contacts with Turkic states and regions, made his comments during a meeting with a visiting delegation of heads of Tatar media outlets in Ankara. He said Turkey treats Tatarstan with special cordiality since Tatars are considered by Turks as a brotherly people. Atalai also said Turkey is ready to take maximum participation in preparations for Kazan's millennium celebration in August.

Parliamentary Commissions Seek Revision Of Housing, Municipal Services Fees
State Council commissions have tasked the Cabinet of Ministers and the Federal Antimonopoly Service's Tatarstan Board with investigating whether housing and municipal-services fees established for 2005 are reasonable, Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 2 February. The parliamentary Commission on Economy, Investments, and Entrepreneurship and the Commission on Social Policy at their joint meeting the previous day discussed measures to defend citizens' interests in the course of housing and municipal services reforms. Construction and Housing Minister Marat Khosnullin said at the gathering that expenses in the sector rose in 2005 by 18 percent. However, he said that the costs of services in the republic is among the lowest in the Volga Federal District and 25 percent below the Russian average.

Ex-Duma Deputy Convicted Of Defaming Tatar Interior Minister
A Kazan court on 2 February convicted former State Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin of defaming heads of Tatarstan's Interior Ministry and sentenced him to 20 months of imprisonment, Interfax-Povolzhe and reported. Shashurin was sued for televised claims he made in November 2003 and during campaign meetings alleging that Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov and two his deputies were involved in the kidnapping and murder of KamAZ Metallurgy Plant general director Viktor Faber (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 and 3 October 2003), the theft of gold and alcohol production, and that they had links to organized crime.

During his hearing, Shashurin repeated all allegations against Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov and his deputies and said the trial was "political."

In another criminal case due to be heard on 14 February, Shashurin is accused of fraud (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 January 2005).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir President Meets With Human Rights Official
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met on 2 February with visiting head of the Presidential Council for Promotion of Development of Civic Society Institutes and Human Rights, Ella Pamfilova, Bashinform reported the same day, citing the Bashkir presidential press service.

Commenting on recent events in Blagoveshchensk, after which hundreds of detained people complained of torture and violence committed by Interior Ministry employees, Rakhimov said, "Of course, excesses occur sometimes in the work of law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, there are no ideal bodies in our state." But he said loud protests against almost every incident connected to Bashkir Interior Ministry bodies may be linked to groups who would like to see someone friendly to their causes in the post of Bashkir interior minister.

Pamfilova said violations of human rights by Interior Ministry employees take place regularly in all of Russia's regions and that resolution of the problem is integral for Russia's development.

Pamfilova is also scheduled to meet with Bashkortostan's acting Prosecutor Mikhail Zelepukin and to visit Blagiveshchensk to check on the investigation of December's events.

Pamfilova had told Interfax-Povolzhe on the eve of her visit to Bashkortostan that a "preliminary conclusion can be already made on the grounds of information collected about the events in Blagoveshchensk about the scandalous violations of the rights of Blagoveshchensk residents and the unprecedented arbitrariness of employees of the local administration and law enforcement bodies."

Ufa Interior Board Establishes Council To Supervise Observance Of Human Rights
A public council will be formed in the Interior Ministry's Ufa Board, similar to the body that was recently set up under the Bashkir Interior Ministry, the Vsya Ufa television company reported on 2 February. The council will unite about 10 representatives of law enforcement agencies, lawyers, journalists, deputies and public leaders. Gathering once every quarter, the body will consider the complaints of Ufa residents about violations of their rights by Interior Ministry employees.

Bashkir Oil Refineries Said To Be Merged Into State-Run Company
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 2 February on an alleged plan promoted by federal authorities on establishing an oil giant, Gosneft, which is expected to become the country's leading oil manufacturer. The daily specified that a controlling interest in the company will belong to the state, while minority stakes will be owned by Surgutneftegaz, Gazprom, and, probably, Chinese CNPC. Bashkortostan's oil refineries are also expected to join Gosneft, according to the daily, since they may face bankruptcy and fall under state control following repayment of 12 billion rubles ($429 million) in unpaid taxes after a verdict by the Supreme Arbitration Court Presidium (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 January 2005).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova