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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 17, 2004

17 May 2004
Tatenergo Donates Former Office Building To Future Tatar National University
While inaugurating the new Tatenergo office building on Qaban Lake in Kazan, President Mintimer Shaimiev and the energy company's general director, Ilshat Ferdiev, confirmed that the company's old building nearby will be donated to the Tatar national university, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 17 May. The idea of establishing a Tatar university instead of Tatar departments in the republic's existing universities has been favored by Tatarstan's elite since the early 1990s and the decision to establish a new university was made by the Tatar government only recently. Nevertheless, Tatar scholars still haven't come up with sound scientific grounds for opening a Tatar national university, thus making it a purely politically motivated project.

In addition to the old Tatenergo building, the Tatar university will get a new bigger one in front of it. The new university will be established on the basis of the existing Tatar Humanitarian Institute.

AIDS Victims Toll Nearing 7,000 In Tatarstan
The day before AIDS Victims Day on 15 May, the "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily wrote that 6,885 cases of the disease have been registered in Tatarstan since 1987, 373 of which have died since then, including one child. Figures on the spread of AIDS in the republic have dropped among drug addicts while the number of cases acquired through sexual intercourse has increased. Meanwhile, there are some 1,100 AIDS carriers in the prison system.

Kazan Police Investigate First Case Of Software Copyright Abuse
For the first time, Kazan police are investigating a case of commercial use of illegal copies of the Windows operating system, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 17 May. The Kazan police's economic crimes department shut down a local computer gaming clubs for using pirated copies of Microsoft Windows Millennium, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Home Edition, and confiscated 22 personal computers along with the server. The investigation led by Tatarstan's deputy prosecutor Ferit Zegidullin alleged that the club caused Microsoft Corporation some 123,346 rubles (approximately $4,250) in damages and its management was charged with a major violation of copyrights.

The investigation reportedly created a strong stir in the computer community of the Tatar capital, where only a few personal computer owners are said to have a legal copy of Windows and buying official copies of software is the exception rather than the rule. Previously, the police had sought only the sellers of counterfeit software.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Investigators Conclude Probe Of 2002 Bashkir Airlines Disaster
The final report on the investigation into the 1 July 2002 midair collision of a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet and a DHL cargo jet over southern Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002) are to be published on 19 May, "Vremya novostei" reported on 17 May. Meanwhile, Swiss newspapers on 16 May published records of conversations between pilots of the two jets involved in the accident with the air-traffic controller working for the Swiss company Skyguide. "Matin" outlet commented that "the records show that the Russian crew did not precisely follow orders by the Skyguide air-traffic controller and discussion took place in the airliner on what to do." However, "Vremya novostei" commented that according to the record, on the contrary, the crew precisely implemented the order by dispatcher Peter Nielsen, which unfortunately resulted in the collision. The daily also cited Swiss outlets as reporting that Skyguide is prepared to pay $100,000 in compensation for each person killed in the accident. However, the German lawyer who is representing many of the victims' families is reportedly seeking $1.5 million for each victim. However, Skyguide's offer has reportedly been accepted by relatives of 11 members of the Bashkir Airlines crew. The German lawyer also reportedly plans to file suit in a U.S. court on the basis that a telephone line used by Skyguide that was out of order at the time of the accident was installed by a U.S. company. The collision claimed 71 lives, most of them schoolchildren from Bashkortostan.

Moscow Lawyer Arrested In Ufa
The Ufa October Raion court on 14 May sanctioned the arrest the previous day in Ufa of well-known Moscow lawyer and former Gazprom-Media board member Anatolii Blinov, "Kommersant-Daily," "Izvestia," and RosBalt reported. Blinov is accused of forgery and fraud involving 30 million rubles' ($1 million) worth of a promissory notes of the Ekologia-Tekhno company. On 12 May, Blinov was interrogated in Moscow by Ufa investigator Lyudmila Barabanova. Searches were also held the same day in Blinov's office, apartment, and summer home, and two computers and documents were seized. At Barabanova's request, Blinov on 13 May flew to Ufa, were he was detained upon his arrival. A judge said the decision is based on the fact that Blinov has a foreign passport and thus has the possibility of fleeing the investigation. Blinov's lawyers said they will appeal the decision.

German Ambassador Joins Days Of Germany In Bashkortostan
German Ambassador to Russia Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz arrived in Ufa on 16 May to take part in the Days of Germany in Bashkortostan held on 14-21 May, Bashinform reported on 16 May. Von Ploetz told reporters at the Ufa airport that he will meet with President Murtaza Rakhimov and Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov during his visit. The event is held at the initiative of the German Embassy in Russia with the support of the governments of Bashkortostan and the German state of Saxony, the administrations of Ufa and Galle, the German-Russian Forum, and Lufthansa airlines. After the official opening of the days on 17 May, the ambassador will attend and lay wreaths at a memorial to victims of the July 2002 Bashkir Airlines air disaster, and take part in a forum. Events will also include screening of new German films, exhibitions, and concerts.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova