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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 23, 2005

23 May 2005
IBRD Loan For Kazan Approved
The Russian government on 19 May approved an agreement signed by Russia and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) on a $125-million loan to finance a project on increasing Kazan's attractiveness to investors, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 20 May. The first tranche of $50 million will be allocated immediately after the agreement comes into force. The Russian Finance Ministry, along with the Kazan administration and the Tatarstan cabinet, agreed that the remainder will be provided on the condition that city authorities strengthen the management of Kazan's budget and finance matters, take steps to improve social welfare, and introduce market mechanisms in the housing and municipal-services sectors. The loan will be serviced and repaid through the federal budget. The IBRD board of directors approved the Kazan project on 24 February.

Tatarstan To Allocate $30 Million For Tu-334 Production
Nail Kheirullin, the general director of the Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant, told Tatar-inform on 21 May that Tatarstan will contribute $30 million to the production of Tu-334 aircraft. Kheirullin said the paperwork has been prepared for the launch of the plane's production. The resolution on starting production of the jet was passed by the Russian government on 19 April. In 2005-06, financing for the project will come jointly from the federal budget and the republic. Full production of the aircraft will begin in 2007.

Tatar Scholar Questions Results Of 2002 Census In Bashkortostan
Ethnologist Damir Iskhaqov told a press conference on 20 May in Kazan that the roughly 200,000 Tatar-speaking Bashkirs registered in Soviet-era census counts disappeared during the 2002 census in Bashkortostan. In their place, said Iskhaqov, a new ethnic group appeared -- the Bashkir-speaking Tipters. Iskhaqov claimed the phenomenon is the result of a policy decision made during the census by Bashkortostan authorities and scholars from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Russian Academy of Sciences. During the 2002 census, Iskhaqov said, at least 225,000 Tatars were registered as Bashkirs. The ethnologist presented the data in his book, "The 2002 Census in Bashkortostan," which was presented to the executive committee of the World Tatar Congress (BTK) on 20 May. During the press conference, BTK leaders called for the results of the 2002 population count to be contested in court.

Crimean Tatars Dissatisfied With Yushchenko Statement
Crimean Tatars are indignant over a recent statement by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko that the Milli Mejlis, or Tatar National Congress, should reject its declaration on sovereignty, RosBalt reported on 20 May, citing the newspaper "Poluostrov." Yushchenko, meeting with Milli Mejlis leaders on 5 May in Bakhchisarai, asked them to reject the 1991 declaration on the national sovereignty of Crimean Tatars, which he described as a document that "contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution and causes anxiety among Crimean communities." The paper opines that "representatives of the elder generation see the president's words as humiliating to Crimean Tatars, people who, like Ukrainians, have a right to self-determination." The Crimean Tatar youth organization Devlet has also condemned Yushchenko's statement, saying Crimean Tatars will never refuse their right to statehood. The 1991 declaration states that "Crimea is a national territory of the Crimean Tatar people on which they alone have the right of self-determination" as accorded by internationally recognized legislation.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Human Rights Activist Convicted Of Rape
A court on 14 May sentenced Vladimir Simarchuk, the former chairman of Bashkortostan's Committee for the Social Defense of Servicemen, to three years in prison for the rape of an 18-year-old army deserter (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 14, 15 and 29 October 2004), Regnum reported on 19 May. In September 2004, the deserter appealed to Simarchuk for help, but several days later, he filed a lawsuit against the human rights defender accusing him of rape. Simarchuk's lawyers told a press conference on 16 May that they will appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. Simarchuk continues to deny the charges. Investigators have reported the human rights worker was charged with homosexuality during his own military service in the 1970s and was sentenced to involuntary mental treatment. The committee, which was established in 1990, delivers humanitarian aid to servicemen in Tajikistan, Daghestan and Chechnya. Simarchuk has criticized the fact that Bashkortostan regularly sends far more conscripts for army service than Moscow, which has a much larger population than the republic.

Justice Ministry Recalls Lawsuit Against Tatar Civic Group
The Bashkortostan board of the Russian Justice Ministry recalled its lawsuit against the republic's Tatar Public Center (TIU), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 May. In late April, the board appealed to the Ufa Kirov Raion court to abolish TIU, arguing the center failed to report on its activities and was operating without proper registration. A hearing on the case was scheduled for 19 May, but the board then called back its appeal in order to "examine it more thoroughly." TIU Chairman Airat Giynietullin said the Justice Ministry claim against the center was unfounded from the beginning. He did not exclude, however, the possibility that legal actions against TIU will continue.

Polief Elects New Board of Directors
A 19 May meeting of shareholders from the Polief chemical factory elected a new board of directors that includes three representatives from the Selena group, three Bashkir government officials and one independent members, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 21 May, citing Selena Senior Vice President Vladimir Kaniber. Selena representative Anatolii Bondaruk was appointed the new general director of Polief, while his predecessor Yegefer Ebdreshitov is set to become executive director. Kaniber stated that Selena invests "a lot of money" in Polief " which can only be managed by its owner." In March, Selena won a tender to purchase the chemical firm for 3 billion rubles ($107 million). Sibur and LUKoilneftekhim, which lost the tender, filed a complaint with the Moscow Arbitration Court, demanding that the results of the bidding be annulled and accusing the Russian Federal Property Fund of engaging in speculation. Sibur Senior Vice President Dmitrii Konov commented that there is a "strong feeling that Selena doesn't plan to develop the plant, but will seek to resell it us." A hearing on the case has been scheduled for 14 June, until which time all major share transactions at Polief are banned. Selena has filed with the Moscow Arbitration Court of Appeals against the share-blocking decision. The appeal will be considered on 31 May.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova