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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 13, 2005

13 April 2005
Opening Dates Set for Qol Sherif Mosque, Blagoveshchenskii Cathedral
Tatarstan�s President Mintimer Shaimiev has issued a decree scheduling the opening in the Kazan Kremlin of the Qol Sherif mosque for 24 June and of the Blagoveshchenskii cathedral for 21 July, Tatar media reported on 11 and 12 April. Reconstruction of the two buildings was funded mainly by donation from residents. Qol Sherif, the leading mosque of the Kazan Khanate, was destroyed in 1552 after Kazan�s capture by Ivan the Terrible. The same year, the cathedral was constructed on its place. Construction of the new Qol Sherif mosque was launched in 1996, while restoration works in the cathedral were begun in the 1970s.

Victim Of Police Abuse Wins Compensation
The Kazan Volga Raion court on 12 April issued a verdict ordering the Tatar Finance Ministry to pay 55,000 rubles ($1,980) in compensation for moral harm to Sergei Ionov, RFE/RL�s Kazan bureau reported the same day. Ionov was heavily beaten by a sergeant with the Interior Ministry, Oleg Smetanin, in November 2003, resulting in a fractured rib and wound to the lung that required surgery. In May 2004, Smetanin was sentenced to four years of imprisonment. In October 2004, Ionov lost a lawsuit against the Kazan Volga Raion administration demanding payment of 200,000 rubles ($7,200) in compensation. That 2004 verdict was later annulled by the Tatar Supreme Court.

Police Apologize To Tolkien Fans
A group of young men who were detained by police during the 10 April protest meeting in Kazan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 April 2005) for carrying what appeared to be steel weapons were in fact admirers of JRR Tolkien's fantasy literature, Tatar-inform and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 and 12 April, respectively. The young men, who had been passing by the meeting site wearing sham swords and helmets, were released with apologies after being taken to the Interior Department.

Ten members of the National Bolshevik Party who were also detained at the meeting for handing out party leaflets were also freed after their names were registered in the Interior Department's card file.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Russian Human Rights Official Dissatisfied With Results Of Investigation Into Blagoveshchensk Case
Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin called for a thorough investigation into the Interior Ministry's raid in December in Blagoveshchensk until all those guilty are prosecuted, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 12 April. In an article published in "Izvestia� on 12 April, Lukin said senior officials -- not "switchmen" -- of the Bashkir Interior Ministry who initiated and supervised the Blagoveshchensk raid should be brought to justice. Lukin also criticized appointment of the former Bashkir Deputy Interior Minister as the republic's ombudsman. Lukin said this is "a large mistake by the republic's authorities and a brewing scandal regarding persistent unwillingness to provide guarantees of constitutional rights and freedoms."

Motherland Sends Members To Negotiate With Bashkir Opposition
Motherland leader Dmitrii Rogozin said on 12 April that the party sent its representatives, including State Duma deputies, to Ufa on the same day to hold negotiations with Bashkortostan's united opposition, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported. Rogozin said the visit aims at clarifying the party's position in the conflict and its attitude toward President Murtaza Rakhimov.

Bashneft Leaves Yumaguzy Reservoir Board
Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov told a government meeting on 11 April that Bashneft is leaving the board-of-investors of the Yumaguzy water reservoir, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 12 April. Bashneft, which possesses 7.8 percent of the reservoir's capital, also seeks to recover over 500 million rubles ($18 million) it has invested in the reservoir's construction. Baidavletov titled the move "sabotage" but added that "Bashneft's demarche will not change the terms for finishing construction."

Baidavletov called the decision "political," noting that it is a continuation of a conflict between President Rakhimov and his son Ural, who controls the republic's leading fuel-and-energy companies. "Almost every day heads of the republic's fuel-and-energy sector try to sabotage projects they previously took part in. Those guys are probably completely under the heel of Ural Rakhimov, neither the president nor the government of Bashkortostan exist for them," Baidavletov said.

Construction of the Yumaguzy reservoir started in 1998. According to plans, the 35 square-kilometer facility is to hold 800 million cubic-meters of water. Two of its three 15-megawatt capacity hydraulic units have already been launched. In total, over 5 billion rubles ($180 million) have been spent on the project, 28.6 percent of them from the republican budget and 71.4 percent from the republic's leading companies, including Bashkirenergo, Bashneft, Bashneftekhim, and Salavatnefteorgsintez.

Parliament To Amend Legislation On Street Actions
The Bashkir State Assembly plans at its next session on 19 April to pass in three readings a draft law governing requests to hold public events, RosBalt reported on 12 April. Members of the parliamentary Committee on Issues of Local Self-Government, Nationalities, Public and Religious Associations, and Information Policy told the news agency that the draft "presents details of the procedure for giving notice of meetings, marches, and demonstrations on the republic's territory." Parliamentary representatives commented that the draft does not constrain the rights of citizens to organize and stage civil actions and does not contradict the federal law governing the holding of assemblies, marches, demonstrations, and meetings. Recently Bashkir presidential administration head Radii Khebirov has said the parliament "within the framework of its power" will toughen requirements regarding holding meetings and marches. Khebirov referred to numerous appeals by residents who are "indignant with the actions of the Bashkir opposition." Khebirov expressed hope that the new law "will let put things in order in the streets of our city using legal methods and means."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova