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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 16, 2005

16 February 2005
Anniversary Of Kazan-Moscow Treaty Remains Unremembered
The 11th anniversary of the signing of the bilateral power-sharing treaty between Kazan and Moscow passed unnoticed by most republican officials and media, RFE/RL�s Kazan bureau reported on 15 February. On that day in 1994, Presidents Mintimer Shaimiev and Boris Yeltsin exchanged powers between the republican and federal governments, thus confirming Tatarstan�s status within the Russian Federation and initiating a policy that was later taken by other ethnic republics in Russia. However, the 11-year-old treaty was not extended by the government of President Vladimir Putin and currently has no legal force.

Since the late 1990s, a bilateral working group of federal and republic legal experts has been working on a new treaty, the terms of which have yet to be made public.

Internet Fair To Promote Tatar Investment Projects
Tatarstan's Trade Ministry will launch an Internet fair of investment projects in an effort to attract more potential investors to the republican economy, Intertat reported on 15 February. The fair will open on on 21 February and present more than 30 projects promoted by major, mid-sized, and small businesses.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Blagoveshchensk Residents Picket In Moscow
Some 20 people held a picket on 15 February on Moscow's Kaluzhskaya Square in front of the Russian Interior Ministry to demand a thorough investigation into the December operation in Blagoveshchensk conducted by Interior personnel, and the dismissal of Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev, international media reported (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 January 2005). The initiative group of 37 Blagoveshchensk residents that arrived in Moscow on 13 February met on 15 February with Russian Deputy Interior Minister Sergei Shchadrin to discuss the situation in Blagoveshchensk. The previous day, they met with the head of the ministry's Inspectorate Department, Aleksandr Smirnyi.

Shchandrin promised the picketers that he would "appeal to the Prosecutor-General's Office to send its investigative group to Bashkortostan" and to provide "operative support for the investigation."

Interior Raid Participants File Defamation Suits Against Newspapers
The leadership of the Bashkir Interior Ministry's special troops detachment has filed a defamation suit against the Blagoveshchensk newspaper "Zerkalo," Regnum reported on 15 February. "Zerkalo" Editor in Chief Veronika Shakhova told a press conference on 14 February in Moscow that lawsuit initiators demand that the outlet pay 1 million rubles ($35,676) in compensation for moral harm. Similar suits have also been filed against "Novaya gazeta" and Bashkir opposition newspaper "Otechestvo." Another lawsuit was filed by Bashkir Interior Minister Divaev against representatives of the Bashkir branch of For Human Rights.

Moscow Court Refuses To Permit Same-Sex Marriage
Moscow's Ostankino Court has rejected a lawsuit by Bashkir State Assembly Deputy Edvard Murzin against the Moscow Butyrskii registry office that refused to register his same-sex marriage with the editor in chief of "Kvir" magazine, Eduard Mishin (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 and 21 January and 2 February 2005). In his appeal, Murzin demanded that the Family Code be amended to bring it into line with the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

A representative of the registry office said during the hearing that the office is prepared to register the marriage as soon as appropriate legislation is enacted. The court ruled that Russian legislation does not contain any direct prohibition of same-sex marriages and rejected the suit, adding that the issue is to be resolved at the legislative level, not in court.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova