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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 10, 2005

10 February 2005
Four Tatar Businessmen Among Russia's Ruble Billionaires
Four Tatar businessmen were included on the list of Russian ruble billionaires published by the weekly "Finans" of 7 February. Airat Kheirullin, a State Duma deputy who owns the Krasnyi Vostok beer brewery, ranked 60th with an estimated wealth of 13.2 billion rubles ($470 million). His brother, Krasnyi Vostok General Director Ilshat Kheirullin, was ranked 105th with estimated wealth of 6.5 billion rubles ($230 million).

Radik Shaimiev, who serves as an adviser to the general director of TAIF, and the general director himself, Albert Shihabetdinov, ranked 164th and 165th, respectively. Both were estimated to be worth 3.7 billion rubles ($130 million).

Former Parliamentarian Claims Charges Against Him Were Fabricated
Former Tatar State Council Deputy Rostem Zakirov on 8 February testified during his trial before the Tatar Supreme Court that he is innocent of charges that he organized the slaying of Egerje Raion administration head and Zakirov's successor in the post, Rafis Seyetov (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 and 18 September and 11 November 2002 and 9 December 2003), "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 9 February.

Zakirov claimed the criminal case against him was fabricated by the Tatar Interior Ministry under the leadership of Minister Esget Seferov. Zakirov said other defendants implicated him under torture. Seven people, including Zakirov who is accused of contracting the murder, are on trial in relation to the killing. Prosecutors are seeking a 19-year prison sentence for Zakirov and 14 to 15 years for other defendants. In the course of the trial, Zakirov attempted suicide several times by swallowing nails and needles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Parliament Justifies Police Actions In Blagoveschensk Incident...
The emergency session of the Bashkir State Assembly on 10 February adopted a resolution on the December incident in Blagoveschensk (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004, 3, 6, 7, 10-14, 17-21, and 24 January, 9 February 2005) saying that the actions by the Bashkir police "were caused by an upsurge of crime" accompanied "by numerous complaints from local residents, who asked for law and order to be restored in their town," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The assembly noted that according to official statistics for 2004 there were 200 more assaults compared to the year before and the number of robberies increased by 54.1 percent.

The deputies stated in their resolution that there was good reason to address the stiuation, and that the event has been subject to an unfair media campaign.

Noting the policemen responsible for violations committed during the incident had already been punished, the State Assembly called for closer interaction between the public council on human rights under the Bashkir Interior Ministry, and public organizations and the media in the future.

...As Prosecutor Puts Blame On Undisciplined Low-Ranking Policemen And Biased Media
Bashkortostan's acting prosecutor, Mikhail Zelepukin, told the same parliamentary session that he welcomed the principaled position of the Bashkir Interior Ministry when considering the consequences of the Blagoveschensk incident, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 10 February. He emphasized that when following the orders of the interior minister on the operation, policemen did not comply with the last provision of the official document, demanding legality and profesional discipline. The prosecutor criticized some of the Russian media covering the affair for referring to cases of rape by police officers, something that has not been officially confirmed. Attending the session, President Murtaza Rakhimov agreed with this statement and called for preosecution of media that failed to ensure the truthfulness of their reports.

Bashkortostan's Foreign Trade Hits Historic High
Bashkortostan's foreign trade in 2004 totaled $3.8 billion, the highest in the republic's history, RosBalt reported on 9 February. According to the news agency, foreign trade currently makes up 40 percent of the republic's gross domestic product. Bashkortostan's foreign trade remains export-dominated, as only 10 percent of the total is imports. Seventy percent of exports are oil and petroleum products, mostly to Germany and China.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi