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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 31, 2005

31 March 2005
Shaimiev Insists Russia Will Have To Return To Direct Gubernatorial Elections...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told Ekho Moskvy radio on 30 March that Russia's return to the direct election of regional governors "is merely a question of time," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. He said that following the reform abolishing these elections, the Tatar parliament did not eliminate the republic's constitutional provision on the election of the republican leader, but rather suspended it. However, Shaimiev declined to define when exactly direct elections will be reinstated, which he called a "question as complicated as the weather forecast." He also said that Tatarstan is not planning to merge with any other territorial entities of Russia.

...And Outlines Similarities Between Kyrgyzstan And Bashkortostan
Commenting on the recent dramatic developments in Kyrgyzstan and the public demonstrations in Bashkortostan, President Shaimiev said in the same Ekho Moskvy interview that Tatarstan does not need its own revolution, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. He said Tatarstan experienced an extremely complicated situation in the early 1990s and "luckily enough, then we managed to find a solution for these problems." Shaimiev claimed that "Bashkortostan and Kyrgyzstan had no intangible problems, but they have to be dealt with this way or another."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Prosecutor Opposes Prosecution Of Interior Minister...
Bashkortostan's prosecutor-general, Aleksandr Konovalov, told reporters on 30 March that he sees no grounds for filing a criminal case against Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev, Interfax-Povolzhe reported the same day. Konovalov did not rule out Divaev becoming a witness in the Blagoveshchensk case that was filed after a December police raid involving special interior ministry troops that allegedly resulted in beating and civil rights violations (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 21 January 2005). During an investigation of that police raid, 342 residents of Blagoveshchensk and three policemen were recognized as having been victimized during the raid. Konovalov said the minister was interrogated during the case's investigation. Russian deputy prosecutor-general for the Volga Federal District, Sergei Gerasimov, stated that he appealed for the Russian interior minister to bring Divaev to account for "his responsibility for massive legal infringements in Blagoveshchensk and for violations of the constitutional rights and freedoms of hundreds of residents" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 March 2005).

Bashkir Interior Minister spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30 March that a year ago, then-acting Prosecutor-General Mikhail Zelepukin sent a similar appeal to the Russian interior minister but the issue was then settled and normal cooperation was established between the Prosecutor's Office and the ministry.

Human rights activists, however, are calling for criminal persecution against the minister. For Human Rights movement Chairman Lev Ponomarev told Interfax-Povolzhe on 30 March that Divaev "should become the object of a criminal case."

...Pledges To Supervise Scandalous Criminal Cases...
Prosecutor Konovalov also said he will personally supervise the investigation and court proceedings of the criminal cases from the car blast that claimed two lives in Ufa in November 2003 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 7 November 2003) and the printing of fake ballots in the Ufa printing house run by the Bashkir presidential administration during the December 2003 Bashkir presidential campaign (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 5 December 2003 and 16 June 2004), RosBalt reported on 30 March. In the first case, the investigation was stopped due to a lack of suspects. In the second case, accusations were moved against printing house Director Marat Weliev.

...As Russian Election Official Says Case On Fake Ballots To Be Heard In Court
In an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 28 March, Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov said the investigation on fake election ballots is done and files about the case were passed to a court several months ago but a hearing on it has been since postponed. Veshnyakov said "we had to appeal to the republic's Qualification Commission [of Judges] saying [the delay of the hearing] is impermissible." Veshnyakov added that just the previous day he had received a court reply saying that the delay was caused by objective reasons and that the hearing will be held in several days. Veshnyakov pledged to pursue the case of the alleged fake ballots to its end.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova