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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 5, 2005

5 May 2005
Kazan Police Break Up Picket Against Military-Service Reform
Police detained six activists from the Russia-wide Pora youth movement who were trying to gather signatures of Kazan State University students for a petition drive opposing federal plans to abolish the existing exemption from army service for university students and people with children under 3 years of age (see RFE/RL's "Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 May 2005). According to an official statement, the detentions stemmed from the organizers' failure to obtain a permit from city authorities to hold the picket.

The head of the Kazan Human Rights Fund, lawyer Ramil Nuriev, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau the same day that he thinks the youth group did not have any illegal political agenda and the police had no right to disperse the picket. He said the federal law on public gatherings requires prior official approval only for protests and demonstrations.

Interior Ministry Steps Up Antiterrorism Training
Tatarstan Interior Minister Esget Seferov told reporters on 4 May that republican police will hold monthly training sessions for its staff in order to increase vigilance against potential terrorist attacks during Kazan's millennium celebrations, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The training drills reportedly involve undercover police officers testing the preparedness of their colleagues. Seferov added that he had to apologize for possible inconveniences that might be caused by the measures to residents and guests.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Justice Ministry Seeks To Dissolve Bashkortostan Branch Of Tatar Public Center
Ufa's Kirov District court held preliminary hearings in the Justice Ministry's case in Bashkortostan against the local office of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) on 4 May, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The Justice Ministry is accusing the TIU of failing to provide proper reports on its activities since 2002, and insists that it should be dissolved for violating this requirement. TIU is active on the rights of Tatars, the second biggest ethnic group in Bashkortostan. TIU presidium Chairman Mejit Khujin admitted to failing to provide the necessary legal documentation, noting, however, that it was an insufficient reason to close down the TIU.

TIU head Ayrat Giniyatullin told RFE/RL the same day that the suit against an organization in opposition to the Bashkir government had political aims and was based on formalities. Also on 4 May, Bashkir presidential spokesman Rostislav Murzagulov told "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" that in his opinion, "it is foolish to state that Bashkortostan's authorities are persecuting one of a hundred small public organizations active in the republic."

Bashkir Opposition Sues FSB
Anatolii Dubovskii, the head of Bashkortostan's Rus opposition movement, told RosBalt on 4 May that he will sue the Bashkortostan branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) because of a statement by its head, Igor Chernokov. Chernokov had told Bashkortostan's media that the opposition paid money to many participants in the demonstrations in Ufa and Bashkortostan in general.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi