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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 5, 2005

5 September 2005
Three Detained On Allegations Of Terrorism...
Three people alleged of involvement in several explosions in Tatarstan have been detained in the republic, Interfax reported on 2 September. The men, aged between 23 and 44 years old, are accused of blowing up a high-voltage power line in Yugary Oslan Raion's Bolshie Biryuli village in January; carrying out a similar blast near Teleche Raion's Bolshie Nyrsy village in early June; and an incident on an oil pipeline near Layesh Raion's Peschanye Kovali village. A Makarov pistol with a silencer, 16 cartridges, a five-liter canister with a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate, and extremist literature were found on the detainees. Police say they are still searching for another two men in connection with the incidents.

...As Former Guantanamo Detainees Freed
Airat Wakhitov and Rostem Ekhmerov, former prisoners at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay military base, were released on 2 September from pretrial detention in Chally, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Wakhitov and Ekhmerov were detained in Moscow on 27 August and transferred to Chally. Ildar Mokhemetjanov, an assistant to Tatarstan's prosecutor, said on 2 September that the Chally City Court on 29 August issued an order to arrest the two men for 30 days on terrorist allegations. The investigation, however, failed to provide any evidence of this and the detainees were freed, Mokhemetjanov said, adding that employees of the prosecutor's office have apologized to the men. In an interview with "Kommersant" on 3 September, Wakhitov confirmed that the men received apologies, and said he "would think over" whether or not to sue the prosecutor's office. "If I am at last left alone and not bothered, I will keep quiet," he said.

Kazan Mayor Begins Election Campaign
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov told a news conference on 3 September that he is starting his campaign for the 16 October municipal elections, and Tatar-inform reported on 3 September. Iskhaqov said he will run in the Wahapov municipal district in Kazan's Soviet Raion.

Days Of Iranian Culture Soon To Begin In Kazan
A festival celebrating Iranian culture and devoted to Kazan's millennium celebrations will be held in the city on 5-12 September, reported on 2 September. The event is being organized by the Iranian Embassy in Moscow, the Kazan administration, and Tatarstan's Culture Ministry. The events will include an arts and crafts show, a calligraphy exhibition, and the screenings of several Iranian movies at the International Muslim Film Festival in Kazan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan, Chechnya To Develop Mutual Cooperation
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and Chechen President Alu Alkhanov on 2 September signed a framework agreement on bilateral cooperation, "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" reported on 3 September. Rakhimov told reporters following the ceremony in Ufa that if order is to be restored in Chechnya, the republic must revive its schools and oil sector. The two leaders later said that, under the agreement, specific projects will be developed by the republics' ministries and departments.

Rakhimov said Bashkortostan has contributed to the restoration of Chechnya by providing textbooks for educational institutions, accepting Chechen children who need medical treatment, and admitting students from Chechnya to Bashkortostan's institutions of higher education. He said bilateral trade turnover between the two republics, which currently stands at 29 million rubles (some $1.03 million) per year, is "insufficient." Chechen Industry and Power Engineering Minister Amadii Temishev told the daily that under the agreement, the Chechen side proposed the annual delivery of up to 500,000 tons of oil to Bashkortostan's oil refineries. "We are interested as well in the experience of Bashkir specialists in the oil-refining sector and we are ready to attract them to the construction in the republic of an oil refinery capable of processing 5 million tons of oil a year," Temishev said.

Chechen President Says His People Are Misunderstood In Russia
Chechen leader Alu Alkhanov told reporters in Ufa on 3 September that of the 500,000 ethnic Chechens living outside their republic, some 1,500 live in Bashkortostan. He said that he has "high hopes" for these people, whom he expects to influence a shift in Russian peoples' understanding of Chechen culture and traditions, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

Bashkir Communists Hold Peoples Referendum
The Bashkortostan branch of Russian Communist Party on 3 September began an informal "people's referendum" on 10 issues, including the level of trust in President Murtaza Rakhimov and the obligatory teaching of the Bashkir language in primary and secondary schools, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

Russia's Central Election Commission earlier rejected the party's calls for a nationwide referendum on the same issues.

So far, President Rakhimov has not endorsed the amendments to the republican education law introducing obligatory Bashkir lessons to all nationalities. Communists reportedly plan to hold an opinion poll, which is not prohibited by law.

Bashkir Women Participate In Beslan Remembrance Ceremonies
A delegation of the Bashkortostan Women's Union left Ufa on 2 September for North Ossetia to take part in remembrance ceremonies dedicated to the children who died in the Beslan school-hostage crisis last September, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The Beslan children's fund established by Bashkir union has reportedly raised some $90,000 for families of the victims.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi