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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 1, 2005

1 March 2005
Tatar Academic Notes Ambiguity Of Abolishing Gubernatorial Elections
Midkhet Farukshin, a member of Tatarstan's Academy of Sciences and head of the political science department at Kazan State University, wrote in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 25 February that he considers the ongoing reform abolishing the direct election of regional administration heads to be "ambiguous." He said that while the reform is openly antidemocratic and antifederalist, it is a way of putting an end to gubernatorial elections, which are known for their widespread abuse of administrative resources by incumbents. In this respect, he welcomes the end of these elections, though he notes that the reform puts an enormous responsibility on the Russian presidential administration to choose the right candidate for governor.

Government Sums Up Tatarstan's Economic Performance In 2004...
President Mintimer Shaimiev told a meeting of Tatarstan's Economy and Industry Ministry on 28 February that "it is especially important" for the republic to develop its non-oil-related industries, such as the machinery and consumer goods industries, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. At the meeting attended by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, Shaimiev added that Tatar petrochemical firms must "significantly expand production."

Meanwhile, Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov told the meeting that in 2004 Tatarstan's gross regional product was $13.5 billion, a 5.5 percent rise in comparison with 2003. Machinery and metal industries reportedly demonstrated the highest growth, at 12.9 percent, while the petrochemical and chemical industries showed 12.5 growth.

...And Plans New Measures Against 'Gray' Labor Market
At the same meeting, Shaimiev said Tatarstan's government will form a special commission to crack down on the illegal labor market, currently depriving the republic of at least $107 million in tax revenues, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. According to official statistics, about 400,000 residents of Tatarstan are receiving part of their salaries under the table.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Calls For Punishing Plotters In Parliament
President Murtaza Rakhimov has ordered an estimate of the legal consequences of a plot that was revealed at the 24 February session of the Bashkir State Assembly (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 February 2005), RosBalt reported on 28 February, citing an unidentified source in the republic's leadership. The source said the police may be brought in to investigate the incident. "The head of the republic is seriously concerned by the actions of parliamentarians who made an attempt to initiate the resignation of speaker Konstantin Tolkachev in order to elect to the post the president's son, Ural Rakhimov. By his order, qualified lawyers are studying legal opportunities for holding the organizers of the 'plot' responsible," the official said. He confirmed that relations between Murtaza Rakhimov and his son Ural, who controls major companies of the fuel-and-energy sector "have become noticeably complicated."

Prosecutors Say More Than Hundred Victims Of Police In Blagoveshchensk Raid
Bashkortostan's prosecutor's office said on 28 February that over 100 people have been recognized as victims of the December operation in Blagoveshchensk involving a special police detachment (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 21 January 2005), Interfax-Povolzhe and RosBalt reported the same day. The office said that accusations of abuse of power, assault, and forgery have been made against six officers of the Bashkir Interior Ministry, including Ildar Ramazanov of the Interior Ministry Blagoveshchensk branch, Blagoveshchensk Interior Ministry Criminal Investigation Department deputy head Oleg Shapeev, district Interior Ministry officers Albert Soltanov, Vasilii Zhukov, and Vil Khemetdinov, and Criminal Investigation Department employee Aidar Gylwanov. Gylwanov is in custody while the others gave written pledges not to leave the area. Special police troop commander Oleg Sokolov was included in the wanted list.

An independent human rights commission that investigated the Blagoveshchensk incident revealed at least 107 victims, including 23 minors.

16 Kilograms Of Uranium Seized
Two unidentified residents of Tatarstan were detained on 25 February in Bashkortostan's Oktyabrskii as they were trying to sell a container with 16 kilograms of spent uranium, Interfax-Povolzhe reported the same day, citing the Bashkir Interior Ministry press service. The radioactive intensity of the substance was 200 times the norm.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova