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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 20, 2005

20 April 2005
Federal Legislators Said To Favor Federal Regulation Of Tatar Language Status
Tatar State Council deputy Razil Weliev, who is a member of the intergovernmental working group on amending the Kazan-Moscow power-sharing treaty, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau after the group's latest meeting on 19 April that there was a "misunderstanding" between the republican and federal legislators over the treaty's articles on the official status of Tatar in Tatarstan (see "RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 April 2005). The federal officials reportedly considered the article declaring Tatar a state language in Tatarstan subject to regulation by republican authorities, which could lead them to reintroduce the law on Latin Tatar script reform, which was already halted by federal law.

To prevent such legal collisions, federal legislators proposed that the Kazan-Moscow treaty should mention that Tatarstan defines its official language according to Russian laws. Weliev commented that by doing so, they are failing to acknowledge the article of the Russian Constitution saying that republics of the Russian Federation possess statehood within federal laws. In its previous version, the power-sharing treaty mentioned that both the Russian and Tatar constitutions were to be used for regulating the language issue.

EBRD Considers Holding Shareholders Meeting In Kazan
Christer Carlsson, head of the protocol department of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), met with Tatar Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Khafiz Salikhov to discuss the possibility of holding the annual EBRD shareholders meeting in Kazan in May 2007, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 April 2005).

FSB Detains Former Guantanamo Prisoners
According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 19 April, Tatarstan's branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Timur Ishmoradov and Rawyl Gumarov, who had returned after being captured with Taliban militants in Afghanistan. The two had been cleared of terrorism charges and released after being kept at the U.S. military's base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to investigators in Tatarstan, Ishmoradov and Gumarov are charged with organizing the 8 January 2005 gas-pipeline bombing in Bogelme.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Legislature Tightens Regulation Of Demonstrations
The Bashkir State Assembly on 19 April passed in its third reading by a vote of 88 to five a law on registering public demonstrations, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The law obliges organizers of actions involving more than 500 participants to present notification of the action not only to local authorities, but also to the Bashkir government. If there are several organizers of an event, notification must be presented by the leaders of all organizations personally and at the same time. Among other requirements, the notification must be accompanied by a protocol on holding an action and copies of initiating organizations' charters and registration documents confirmed by a notary.

Bashkir parliament deputy Edvard Murzin told "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 20 April that the parliament's initiative was the result of growing pressure by the opposition on republican authorities. Opposition representatives announced that they will follow federal, not local law during their actions. Foundation for Development of Local Self-Government head Robert Zagreev told the daily that the local law was passed "to suppress opposition."

Bashkortostan's Opposition Appeals To Putin
The Coordinating Council of Bashkortostan's united opposition appealed on 18 April to President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, and the Federal Security Service to establish a special government commission to investigate the 16 April events in Ufa (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 April 2005), reported on 19 April. In the appeal, opposition leaders called for holding responsible the heads of the administration, law enforcement, and other authorities for the beating of opposition members during the pro-Rakhimov demonstration. The authors said six beaten oppositionists appealed on 16 April to the Ufa Oktyabr Raion interior department. The opposition leaders said republican authorities organized transportation to the demonstration of fighters from the pro-Rakhimov Union of Bashkir Youth. Those fighters, dressed in camouflage uniforms with stylized swastikas on their sleeves, demonstrated under black banners featuring similar swastikas and images of a wolf. The appeal says police let fighters take part in the demonstration, while on the eve of the meeting they banned security companies from "participating in antigovernment meetings and providing security services" to opposition leaders. Thus, the republican authorities did everything to deprive peaceful participants of the opposition demonstration of security and to have opposition supporters beaten, the appeal concludes.

Ufa Oil Refineries Pay Tax Debts
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov told reporters on 19 April that Bashkortostan's three oil refineries -- Ufaneftekhim, Novo-Ufa Oil Refinery, and Ufa Oil Refinery -- have paid some 10 billion rubles ($360 million) in debts for illegal use of tax breaks in Kazakhstan's Baikonur offshore zone in 2001-02 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 February, 20 March, 26 May, 6 June 23 July, 24 October 2003), RosBalt reported the same day. Rakhimov said the refineries "have paid everything except the fines" of 2.7 billion rubles that were contested in court. To pay the debt, the refineries borrowed $250 million, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 20 April.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova