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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 18, 2005

18 April 2005
Unified Russia Resolves To Boost Its External Communications
The Tatarstan branch of Unified Russia party intends to boost its interaction with the public, non-profit, and commercial organizations, as well as the media and the executive and legislative branches of power, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 April, citing statements from the pro-governmental party's conference held on 16 April. Most of 250 delegates who took part in the conference combine their membership with service in the republic's government. According to official figures, the Tatarstan affiliate of Unified Russia has some 250,000 members.

UN Says Tatarstan Has Third Highest Living Standard In Russia
Khafiz Salikhov, acting minister of trade and foreign economic affairs, told the 15 April session of Alabuga region deputies that according to recent research by the United Nations, Tatarstan had the third highest standard of living in Russia in 2004, Intertat reported the same day. He said it ranked only below Moscow and Tuymen oblast. He also told the deputies that the mission of Tatarstan's government is to further upgrade the standard of living in the republic.

KAMAZ Willing To Enter European Truck Markets
If KAMAZ automotive concern manages to obtain European certificates for its heavy trucks by October 2004, the assembly of such vehicles will begin in Germany, "Finansovie Izvestiya" wrote on 15 April. The planned annual production is 300 vehicles for sale in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. For entering these markets, trucks must meet relevant pollution and noise standards.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Opposition Calls Off Protest Rally, Files Suit Against Pro-Rakhimov Meeting Organizers
Bashkortostan's opposition coordinating council says it will appeal to the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office to sue supporters of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov. The coordinating council charges the Rakhimov supporters with staging an illegal rally at the same site on 16 April where the opposition had scheduled an authorized rally, thus forcing the opposition to call off its event, RFE/RL reported on 17 April.

Opposition leader Ramil Bignov told reporters that the meeting of Rakhimov's supporters was illegal since they did not notify the Ufa administration about it. Bignov added that the opposition appealed directly to the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office because it "does not trust the Bashkortostan Prosecutor's Office." He said the opposition called off its rally to demand Rakhimov's ouster in order to avoid clashes with the supporters of the president.

The organizers of the aborted opposition rally on 16 April, Bignov and Anatolii Dubovskii, were summoned the same day to the Russian Federal Security Service's (FSB) Bashkortostan board, where they were held for five hours. One more opposition leader, Airat Dilmokhemmetov, was detained during the aborted rally and delivered to the FSB, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported the same day.

Opposition leaders charge that Dilmokhemmetov and several others were beaten by pro-Rakhimov activists while at the aborted rally. Bignov said videotapes of such "provocations" will be passed to the Prosecutor-General's Office. He added that "despite unprecedented illegal pressure, the opposition will continue pursuing its aims and will hold its authorized meeting on 1 May."

Rakhimov Says Bashkortostan's People Against Revolution
President Rakhimov told reporters on 16 April that "Bashkortostan's people do not seek any revolution" and "ordinary residents need only prosperity and calm," RosBalt,, and other news agencies reported the same day. Rakhimov labeled opposition leaders "adventurers," saying a major part of them are businessmen and unsuccessful officials dismissed for fraud. "All of them are united by one thing, a passion for gain," Rakhimov said, adding that authorities "will not let them take away the republic's companies that constitute the basis of its economy." Rakhimov said that "those leaders directly or indirectly act in favor of the forces seeking the disintegration of Russia. Those forces have already held revolutions in several countries and do not conceal their willingness to alter Russia their own way."

Some 7,000 people took part in the pro-Rakhimov meeting on 16 April in Ufa organized by the World Bashkir Congress, the Assembly of People's of Russia's local branch, and the Union of Bashkir Youth under slogans of "Hands off Rakhimov!" and "No to the orange plague!" and "Death to orange baboons!" Rakhimov's supporters were delivered by some 400 buses from across the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 16 April.

FSB Seeks Abolishment Of Bashkortostan's Opposition Organizations
The head of the FSB's Bashkortostan board, Igor Chernokov, said on 15 April that the board will appeal to the Russian Justice Ministry's Bashkortostan bureau to halt activities of organizations participating in the coordinating council of Bashkortostan's opposition, RosBalt and Interfax reported on 15 and 16 April, respectively.

Chernokov told reporters on 16 April that no opposition leaders have been formally charged with making public calls for extremist actions during the opposition meetings in Ufa on 26 March and 7 April and that opposition leaders were only summoned to the FSB afterward as witnesses, reported on 16 April. But he said that if examination reveals that the public calls broke the law, then charges will be pressed.

Chernokov added that some 30 representatives of the National Bolshevik Party and radical Tatar nationalists were ready to come to Bashkortostan on 16 April to "break the situation of social stability and decency." But they gave up such plans after learning that authorities strictly control the situation, he said. Chernokov also said no money is delivered from outside the republic to finance Bashkortostan's opposition.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova