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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 19, 2005

19 October 2005
Former Guantanamo Prisoners Accuse Tatar Law-Enforcement Agencies Of Torture
Rawil Gomerov and Timur Ishmoradov, who were heal at the U.S. base at Guantanamo, and Tatarstan resident Fenis Sheikhetdinov told a news conference at RIA-Novosti on 14 October that during their recent stay in pretrial detention on charges of blowing up a pipeline in Bogelme, they were tortured by Federal Security Service (FSB) Bogelme head Rawil Yengalychev, Elmet Antiorganized Crime department head Nikolai Kuzmin, and Interior Ministry officers Ferit Asymov, Ilyas Ibrahimov, and Aleksei Fedotov, reported on 18 October. A jury at Tatarstan's Supreme Court acquitted them on 28 September (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 September 2005). Gomerov, Ishmoradov, and Sheikhetdinov said during the trial that they confessed under torture. Ishmoratov said during the news conference that Tatarstan's FSB accused the three of being recruited by the Moscow FSB to commit acts of terrorism in the republic.

Islamic Committee of Russia Chairman Geidar Dzhemal, who also took part in the news conference, claimed that regional security services try to force federal bodies to allocate additional powers and money for them. Dzhemal accused Tatarstan's FSB of supporting separatism in the republic and Russia's disintegration.

Kazakh President Awards Shaimiev
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has signed a decree awarding Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev the State Peace and Progress award, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 October, citing the Kazakh presidential press service. The award was bestowed "for exceptional contribution to strengthening peace and friendship, mutual confidence between peoples, and vigorous activity aimed at developing relations between Kazakhstan and Russia."

Tatar Scholar Comments On Nationality Policy Draft
Ethnologist Damir Iskhaqov told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 18 October that Russia's non-Russian peoples will not accept the draft nationality policy recently published by "Kommersant-Daily." Iskhaqov said the sections claiming that ethnic Russians play a consolidating role, providing special importance for the Russian language, and the absence of any references to federalism are contentious issues. Iskhaqov assumed that publication of the draft must have been a "feeler" to gauge public reaction and predicted that a smoother variant will likely be introduced later. Strong public criticism of the draft apparently forced the Russian Regional Development Ministry and its head, Vladimir Yakovlev, to denounce it. On 17 October, Yakovlev told Radio Mayak that his ministry has nothing to do with the draft.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Wages Arrears Rioters Storm Sterlitamaq Mayor's Office
Some 30 workers from Sterlitamaq's Avangard plant stormed the mayor's office on 15 October, upset at the looming wage arrears, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the next day. Workers at the former Defense Ministry plant are reportedly owed some $1.5 million in back wages, which they wanted to protest to Mayor Spartak Ekhmetov, Bashkortostan's prosecutor Aleksandr Konovalov, representative of the federal inspector Engels Kulmukhemetov, and Interior Minister Refeil Divaev. The republican officials were visiting Sterlitamaq, as the plant's workers were angry because while one of their former directors is currently wanted by the police, and the second is already in prison, investigators are filing charges against the current director. According to Konovalov, he will personally monitor the investigation and ensure the payment of back wages. Meanwhile, Avangard workers' current salaries are reportedly being paid on time.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi