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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 4, 2005

4 October 2005
Tatarstan Deputy Mufti Calls Idea Of Muslim Vice President 'Unrealistic'
The first deputy chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Weliulla Yaqupov, told a news conference in Kazan on 3 October that he considers a possible proposal to introduce a federal vice presidential post that would be set aside for a Muslim representative "untimely" and "exotic and unrealistic in the current conditions," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rawil Gainetdin, had previously suggested that Muslims might raise a similar issue in the future (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 October 2005). "Islamophobic circles do exist, so Russian society might badly receive such hasty ideas that are not on the agenda," Yaqupov said. There are always representatives of the Muslim community among Russia's senior officials, Yaqupov said, adding that Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev is a Muslim. "This is enough for the confession to be represented." Yaqupov suggested that "the idea of introducing the post of vice president and moving [Tatar President Mintimer] Shaimiev to it emanates from Nizhnii Novgorod." He labeled the idea "premature" and said it would be against Tatarstan's interests to see Shaimiev, who was recently been reappointed, move elsewhere. The introduction of the post would require an amendment to the federal constitution, which is considered undesirable by many politicians, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Yaqupov said. Muslims should instead concentrate on establishing a unified Muslim religious board in Russia, he said, using Tatarstan's experience.

Muslim Leader Nominated For Public Chamber
The chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rawil Gainetdin, has been nominated to be a member of the Russian Public Chamber, Russian media reported on 1 October. According to a decree signed by President Putin, Gainetdin was included on a list of 42 members of the new body, whose creation was backed by the Russian president.

Tank Shells Found Under Tatarstan Bridge
Three tank shells were found under a bridge over the Kazanka River on the Moscow-Ufa motorway, Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 3 October, citing the press service of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry in Tatarstan. Employees of the republican Interior Ministry collected the shells with the support of rescuers, firemen, and an ambulance brigade. Six artillery shells were reportedly found under the same bridge one week ago.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa Court Rejects Blagoveschensk Suit
A Kirov district court in Ufa ruled on 3 October to reject a joint lawsuit brought by Stanislav Markelov on behalf of victims of violent police raids that took place in Blagoveschensk in December 2004, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Markelov previously sued local police for illegally imprisoning 329 local residents who were forcibly brought to the drunk tank. The judge said the investigation in connection with Blagoveschensk has already been closed.

Markelov reportedly intends to take the case to the European Court for Human Rights, which he can only do after he exhausts all levels of appeal within Russia. He said his case represents potential grounds for altering general police detention procedures in Russia.

Journalist Wins Wrongful Dismissal Suit
Tuymazi city court reinstituted Fail Ekhmetshin as deputy editor in chief of the "Sharan" regional weekly in his position, a position he lost soon after the 2003 republican presidential election, RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Ekhmetshin was reportedly dismissed for having cooperating with the local electoral campaign headquarters of Relif Safin, who was running against incumbent President Murtaza Rakhimov, who was reelected. The regional paper was also ordered to pay Ekhmetshin two years of his salary in connection with his wrongful dismissal.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi