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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 15, 2005

15 June 2005
Tatarstan, Samara Oblast Officials Sign Cooperation Agreement
Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin and Samara Oblast Duma Chairman Viktor Sazonov signed a cooperation agreement between their respective parliaments in Samara on 14 June, Tatarinform reported the same day. Addressing Samara Oblast deputies, Mukhametshin said the strengthening the so-called vertical power in Russia in recent years has left little room for federation entities to resolve problems on their own and deprives subjects of legislative initiative. "By supporting each other, we will lobby the interests of voters and the people and promote joint legislative initiatives in the State Duma," Mukhametshin said.

Sazonov said Tatarstan's experience in replacing ramshackle housing provided an example for the Samara Oblast's leadership to follow. The document maps out cooperation in constitutional and state development, strengthening interethnic and interfaith concord, and securing political and social stability in Russia as major areas of cooperation.

Russian Rights Activists Allege Persecution Of Muslims
Some of Russia's leading human rights activists appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials to stop the alleged persecution of Muslims by law-enforcement agencies, reported on 14 June. Their open letter was signed by representatives of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the For Civil Rights and Civil Assistance committees, the Andrei Sakharov Fund, the Institute for Human Rights, the Public Fund Glasnost, the Russia-wide movement For Human Rights. In it, the signatories stress that the fabrication of criminal cases against Muslims is inadmissible. The appeal authors allege that repression against "representatives of the Muslim community under the pretext of fighting religious extremism...revive persecutions on ideological grounds" and "present a form of discrimination against citizens professing faith in Islam." The rights activists also said the situation "rejects the principle of the presumption of innocence, which is a basis of law." The appeal's authors call on President Putin, the Russian ombudsman, the Russian prosecutor-general, and the Russian interior minister to "prevent using law-enforcement bodies as an instrument in settling accounts between religious communities."

Svetlyi Residents Appeal To Putin To Prevent Construction Of Oil Terminal
Residents of Svetlyi in Kaliningrad Oblast have delivered to the Russian presidential administration an appeal against projects for the construction of oil terminals in their town that are being promoted by Yeniseineft and Tatneft, Regnum reported on 14 June, citing the Ekozashchita environmental group. The appeal's authors claim that 10,480 residents voted against the projects in a referendum on the issue (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 May 2005). The referendum was deemed invalid, as turnout of 48.5 percent fell short of the required 50 percent. The residents' group is preparing a court appeal against the decision to invalidate the referendum, arguing that voter lists contained incorrect information.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Police Post Assaulted In Ufa
The Ufa Ordzhonikidze Raion Prosecutor's Office filed a criminal case against several people on charges of hooliganism and insulting police during a 13 June altercation at an Ufa police station, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 14 June.

Several people were injured and required medical attention as a result of the fight, which centered around the detention of three men taken by police for drinking alcohol on the street. A crowd met police when they brought the men to the police station.

Eighteen Kilograms Of Heroin Seized
Criminal charges on narcotics trafficking and possession have been filed against nine men, including seven Tajik immigrants, RosBalt reported on 14 June. The report cited the Bashkortostan Directorate of the Russian Security Service press service. In total, nearly 18 kilograms of heroin were seized, 13 in Sterletamaq and five in Awyrgazy Raion.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova