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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 7, 2005

7 April 2005
UNESCO Experts In Kazan To Develop Concept Of Outstanding Universal Value
Representatives of 37 countries gathered in Kazan for a four-day meeting of experts of the UNESCO Committee of World Heritage that opened on 6 April in Kazan, reported the same day. In a speech, committee President Temba Vakashe said it was not unusual for Kazan to have been chosen to hold such a large-scale international forum since a world heritage object, the Kazan Kremlin, is located in the Tatar capital. The celebration of Kazan's millennium, in August, is also on UNESCO's calendar of memorable dates.

In an appeal by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev to the forum delivered by presidential adviser Rafael Khekimov, he expressed the hope that Tatarstan's Bolgar historical architectural complex and its Sviyazhsk historical architectural complex will also be included on the world heritage list. He also expressed hope that the Tatar national holiday Saban Tue will be included in the list of outstanding examples of spiritual heritage.

Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Yurii Fedotov took part in the meeting.

Court Gives Conditional Terms For Extremist Propaganda...
The Elmet city court has sentenced five local residents to conditional terms of imprisonment for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Islamic Party of Liberation) activities and for promoting its ideology, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 April. Young men were detained in November for distributing extremist literature in mosques and collecting donations for the development of Hizb ut-Tahrir. They were also accused of inflaming national, racial, and religious hatred. The court found the accused guilty of propagating principles of the extremist organization. Tahir Sairuzov and Airat Nurullin were sentenced to one year of conditional imprisonment each while Eldar Khemzin, Ildar Sheikhetdinov, and Eduard Nizamov were given two years of conditional imprisonment. Their lawyers told the daily that the verdicts will be appealed since they "were convicted of being Muslims."

...As Human Rights Leaders Warn About Muslims' Exodus
Memorial group member Vladimir Ponomarev told a press conference in Moscow on 4 April that former prisoners at the U.S.'s Guantanamo Bay military base have appealed to human rights activists to help them emigrate from Russia, where they claim it is impossible to live because of persecution against Muslims, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 6 April. Ponomarev said Tatarstan resident Airat Wakhitov, who served time at Guantanamo Bay, informed him on 4 April that two former Guantanamo prisoners have again been arrested by Tatarstan's police in the past week, one on allegations of using obscene language in a mosque and the other for collecting humanitarian aid for people who say they are being persecuted for having links to Hizb ut-Tahrir. Press conference participants reported numerous cases of illegal arrests of Muslims across Russia, some saying that law enforcement bodies consider any literature in Arab, even if it from the Koran, to be extremist. Human rights leaders said that in some cases there are no grounds for detaining Muslims and that police place explosives or narcotics on them and then arrest them. Moscow Helsinki Group Chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseeva warned that Russia is on the threshold of a mass exodus of Muslims.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova