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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 25, 2005

25 August 2005
Gumilev Monument Opened On St. Petersburg Street
The inauguration of St. Petersburg Street -- which became a present to the city for the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of Kazan -- marked the opening of millennium celebrations in the Tatar capital on 24 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. On the street, a monument to historian Lev Gumilev was erected in place of the initially planned Peter the Great monument, which was replaced after protests from Tatar civic groups. Kazan authorities gave up on the Peter the Great monument after the Tatar Public Center and Tatarstan's Muslim Women Union held demonstrations in mid-July repeating slogans such as "Peter the Great is a Father of the Spiritual Genocide of Tatars" and "No to the Erection in Tatarstan of a Monument to a Russian Colonizer."

During the opening, in which several thousand residents took part, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev quoted Gumilev, saying, "I, a Russian man, defend Tatars from slander all my life." St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko attended the ceremony and presented the city with a snow leopard to symbolize Tatarstan's state emblem. She said that St. Petersburg presents Kazan a "live, gentle, and soft embodiment of the dexterity and strength of the Tatar people."

St. Petersburg spent 164.5 million rubles on the reconstruction of the 560-meter-long pedestrian street that represents an architectural style from St. Petersburg and includes fountains, gratings, and bridges.

Horses Arrive In Kazan For International Race
Horses from Great Britain arrived in Kazan on 22 August to take part in races for the Kazan millennium events which will be held on 27 August at the International Horseracing Complex, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

Russia's first international hippodrome will be officially opened by President Vladimir Putin. A total of some 150 horses from Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Nizhnii Novgorod, Ulyanovsk, Pyatigorsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Bashkortostan have already arrived in the Tatar capital.

According to Britain's "Daily Mail," which published the article "A New Revolution in Russia," devoted to the new track, the Kazan hippodrome is analogous to New York's Belmont Park, though Kazan's track is much bigger. It has stables for 500 horses and premises for housing personnel. The horse Fine Silver, the Newbury Spring Cup winner, is considered one of the favorites in the races.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

International Narcotics Syndicate Uncovered In Bashkortostan
An international criminal group involved in trafficking narcotics from Tajikistan to Russia has been discovered in Bashkortostan, RosBalt reported on 24 August.

Over 190 kilograms of narcotics, including 127 kilograms of heroin and 67 kilograms of opium from Afghanistan were seized in a large-scale operation held by the Federal Security Service's Central, Volga, and Ural districts' territorial subdivisions. The street value of the drugs is estimated at 160 million rubles. The dealers had large excavators to transport the drugs. Several Tajik citizens and local members of the group were detained during the operation. The traffickers were linked to people detained in June in Sterletamaq and Aurgazy Raion, from which 52 kilos of heroin were seized. The Federal Security Service in Bashkortostan has filed criminal charges in the case.

Verdict On BAL Bankruptcy Annulled
The Ural Federal District Arbitration Court on 24 August overruled the 24 June verdict by the Bashkir Arbitration Court on the introduction of bankruptcy procedures at the state-run company Bashkir Airlines (BAL), RosBalt reported on 24 August.

BAL lawyer Lyudmila Terenteva told the news agency that the Ural District Arbitration Court approved the BAL appeal and ordered a stop to the bankruptcy proceedings. On 24 June, the Bashkir Arbitration Court agreed with a suit by the Ufa International Airport against BAL, which owed the airport 72 million rubles as of August. "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" cited a source in the Bashkir government commenting that the verdict will lessen the "chances of BAL leaving a big debt."

Human Rights Defender Sues Russian President
Human rights activist Reis Dewletkujin has appealed to the Moscow Basmannyi Court against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, and Russian Interior Minister Rashit Nurgaliev, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 24 August.

Dewletkujin charged that he had repeatedly appealed to the above mentioned Russian officials about harsh violations by Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev but has received no reply thus far. In his statement, Dewletkujin listed a number of contracted murders that still remain unsolved, including murders he claimed were committed by interior employees in Bashkortostan. Among them, the shooting on 5 September 2003 of A. Melnikov by Interior Ministry Captain R. Lotfullin in his office, and the killing on 24 February 2004 of M. Gimranov by Interior Ministry Major M. Sherefetdinov in Ishimbai, among others. Dewletkujin called on the court to recognize the "criminal inaction" by Putin and Nurgaliev who have done nothing to eliminate conditions enabling the violation of human rights in Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova