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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 19, 2005

19 May 2005
Daily Speculates On Rise Of Religious Extremism In Tatarstan
"Nezavisimaya Gazeta" wrote on 18 May that along with the rise of the bloody conflict in eastern Uzbekistan, where the Islamist extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir is reportedly strong, followers of that organization are increasing pressure on Muslim congregations in Tatarstan. Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir reportedly attempted to interrupt Muslim services in Merjeni and Bolgar mosques. The daily emphasized that these actions could be regarded as retaliation for a time in 2004 when several dozens of Hizb ut-Tahrir members were detained by special forces in Tatarstan's mosques. The arrests, however, were followed mostly just by fines, while five of the group's activists were reportedly given suspended sentences. The Moscow-based newspaper -- which interviewed Ferit khezret Salman, a Muslim priest known for opposing Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board -- wrote that Tatarstan's authorities and Muslim leaders "are now pretending that there is no reason to worry there."

Moratov Abstains From Meeting With Yushchenko
Tatar First Deputy Premier Rawyl Moratov, who is also the chairman of the Ukrtatnafta petrochemical company's Observation Board, told reporters on 18 May that he has decided not to attend the following day's meeting of major oil-product market officials with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Instead, Tatarstan will send Tatneft General Director Shegefet Takhautdinov to the meeting. Moratov explained the decision by saying that as far as the issue of oil-market regulation in Ukraine, President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko are following agreements reached at previous meetings with the top management of Russian oil companies that currently dominate Ukraine's gas market. However, he said that his expectations of "an end to irresponsible statements of some of the heads of Ukrainian state agencies and ministries," referring to recent speculation about the possible deprivatization of Ukrtatnafta, were not fulfilled. Moratov confirmed that "we will patiently wait" for the Ukrainian side to "mature the business sense."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov's Annual Address Emphasizes The Importance Of Self-Government Reform...
In his annual message to the Bashkir Parliament on 19 May, President Murtaza Rakhimov said this year will be dedicated to the development of local self-government, as there will be new municipal institutions formed, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. According to Rakhimov, the power-sharing treaty between Moscow and Ufa will be amended to hand over some of the powers born by federal and republican authorities to municipal bodies. Along with declaring the goal of wider implementation of modern technologies, Rakhimov mentioned that in 2005 Bashkortostan's agricultural output will exceed the 2000 figure by 50 percent.

...And Suggests A List Of Federal Reforms
In his message Rakhimov also said that in 2005 his government will propose federal legislators to reform the Russian Federation Council so that regional governors and parliamentary speakers will return there after the reform which had led to their departure. In Rakhimov's words, he will propose that Moscow allow governors to control the activities of some of the federal agencies operating in the regions. He also noted that it was important to observe the harmony between the legally approved sources of budget revenues and the actual size of budget expenses.

Another Bashkir Parliamentary Deputy Steps Down
Following the recent retirement of Bashkir State Assembly Deputy Ildar Iskhaqov, another businessman closely related to Ural Rakhimov, former Uralsib Bank President Azat Qormanaev was deprived of his deputy status for failing to attend parliamentary sessions in the last three months, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 18 May (see "RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 May 2005). According to unofficial sources interviewed by RFE/RL, Qormanaev is currently residing outside Russia.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi