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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 21, 2005

21 October 2005
Tatarstan To Eliminate State Holiday For Sovereignty
The Tatar State Council's committee for legislation and ethics approved changes to the law on the 30 August republican holiday celebrating the formation of Tatarstan to remove references to Tatarstan's "sovereignty," reported the same day. The amendment comes in the wake of a protest by the republican prosecutor against a provision of the law as contradicting a ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court. That court concluded that the Russian Constitution leaves no room for another entity within Russia to claim sovereignty. The committee suggested that the phrase "to mark the proclamation of the state sovereignty of Tatarstan" be replaced with "to mark the proclamation of the declaration of state sovereignty of Tatarstan." The draft will be debated at a State Council plenary session.

Municipal Election Results Released
Tatarstan Central Election Commission Chairman Anatolii Fomin told a news conference in Interfax on 20 October that by-elections for local municipal bodies will be held in 64 municipal districts. In the 16 October municipal elections, 7,996 deputies were elected in among 8,060 districts. Deputies will form 956 local municipal bodies and 43 raion representative bodies. Some 70 percent of candidates from political parties and 30 percent independents competed in the elections. Unified Russia candidates won in 57 percent of districts, while those from Unified Russia ally Tatarstan-New Century occupied 13 percent of vacancies. Deputies in the local municipal bodies will elect their chairmen and respective representatives to a raion municipal body within two weeks, Fomin said.

Vietnam To Construct Tatarstan-Supplied Patrol Ships
Tatarstan's government and Rosoboroneksport have agreed with Vietnamese naval forces to sell two unfinished patrol ships manufactured by Yeshel Uzen Gorkii Shipbuilding Plant and construct two more at Ho Chi Minh shipyards, "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" reported on 21 October. The deal was negotiated at the meeting between Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and the Vietnam's navy's chief of staff, Fam Ngog Minem, on 5 October in Kazan. Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Director Konstantin Makienko estimated the cost of the deal at $300 million. Designed in the early 1980s, the "Gepard" is capable of engaging submarines, surface ships, and air targets.

Kazan Scholars Help Fight Bird Flu
Employees of the Kazan Federal Center for Animals' Toxicological and Radiation Safety left for Tula Oblast on 20 October to help prevent the spread of avian flu in the oblast, Center Director Arkadii Ivanov told ITAR-TASS the same day. Ivanov said the center's leading scholars have helped combat bird flu in Altai Krai and Chelyabinsk, Omsk, and Tyumen oblasts. The center was also involved in composing maps of main migratory routes.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Blagoveschensk Residents Picket Red Square
About 10 residents of Bashkortostan's Blagoveschensk picketed at Moscow's Red Square on 19-21 October to protest police violence during the December 2004 police raid in their city, an RFE/RL Mosow correspondent reported on 21 October. Veronika Shakhova, a journalist and coordinator of the civic group Beaten Russia, told reporters in Moscow the same day that those police raids involved the "beating and torture of hundreds of locals and the rape of dozens of local girls."

The picketers are reportedly demanding the prosecution of Bashkir Interior Minister Refeil Divae. Shakhova also complained that she has received anonymous threats over her public activities. The victims of the raids are under strong pressure by local law-enforcement bodies, she said, and often withdraw their complaints alleging police abuse.

Court hearings into charges against eight Blagoveschensk police officers and OMON special task force operatives were initially postponed to 12 October, but the court on that date announced that the hearings had been put off again.

Bashkortostan Mentioned Among Alleged Violators Of Ethnic Russians' Rights
The Moscow Human Rights Bureau's report on ethnic rights presented in Moscow on 19 October focused on perceived rights infringements in Tatarstan perpetrated against ethnic Russians but also noted that ethnic Bashkirs enjoy an exclusive right to have their scientific degrees upgraded. Other ethnic groups must submit such degrees outside the republic to achieve the same goal.

Federal Court Refuses To Proceed On Illegal Privatization Case
A Ural federal arbitration court on 20 October rejected an appeal by Bashkortostan's assets ministry against Bashkirskii Kapital (BK), which is run by President Imomali Rakhimov's son, Ural, "Kommersant" reported the next day. The ministry had sought to reverse the privatization to Bashkirskii Kapital of state shares in four petrochemical plants in Ufa and Bashkirnefteprodukt.

The privatization deal was canceled in May, but the Bashkir ministry canceled its claim on 8 June -- something that "Kommersant" reported was facilitated by the payment of $464 million by Ural Rakhimov. However, the litigation was resumed by the Bashkir prosecutor's office, which now has reportedly canceled its proceedings on the affair. Bashkirskii Kapital recently sold most of its stake in republican petrochemical companies to Russia's Sistema group.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi