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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 6, 2004

6 July 2004
Parliament Speaker Visits Altai Republic
Tatarstan's parliamentary delegation, headed by State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, began a visit to the Altai Republic on 5 July, reported the same day.

The visit will include the signing of a five-year cooperation agreement between the Tatar legislature and the State Assembly of Altai on 7 July. The document aims to develop interparliamentary cooperation between Tatarstan and Altai and to create a foundation for the further development of relations in the political, socioeconomic, and cultural spheres. Legislative activity in Russia and its regions was on the agenda of the meeting of the Tatar delegation with Altai State Assembly Chairman Igor Yaimov and other parliament deputies. The same day, Altai Republic President Mikhail Lapshin received Tatar officials to discuss improving bilateral relations. Lapshin thanked Tatarstan for allocating 500,000 rubles in humanitarian aid after the earthquake in Altai the previous year.

Mukhametshin said Tatarstan's residents have special feeling for the Altai Republic as an ancient motherland of Turkic peoples. He added that the delegation brought two KamAZ trucks as a present to municipalities in the Kosh-Agach and Ulagan raions that suffered the most from the earthquake.

Moscow Saban Tuye Gathers 50,000
Over 50,000 people took part in the Tatar national holiday Saban Tuye at the Moscow horse-riding complex Bittsa on 4 July despite pouring rain for most of the day, reported on 5 July, citing Tatarstan's representative to Moscow.

The president of Moscow's Tatar National Cultural Autonomy, Resim Aqchurin; Russian Muslim Religious Board head Rawil Gainetdin; and Moscow Deputy Mayor Aleksandr Men gave remarks at the event, while Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and the presidential envoy to the Central Federal District, Georgii Poltavchenko, sent their greetings but were unable to attend. Delegations and athletes from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Volgograd, Penza, Nizhnii Novgorod, and other regions joined the celebration. Nizhnii Novgorod wrestler Ramil Narimanov, winner of the 2003 Saban Tuye in Tatar-Bashkir wrestling, again won the major prize this year. The Korus company, which was a major sponsor of Saban Tuye-2004, gave the Moscow Tatar Cultural and Educational Center a Gazel automobile.

TYG Criticizes Unified Russia
The Tatarstan -- New Century (TYG) political movement accused its political ally Unified Russia of being removed from reality and lacking enthusiasm for reforms, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 6 July.

The statements were made at a TYG congress in Kazan on 3 July. At the congress, TYG concluded that it should help its ally by initiating discussions involving the republic's population as regards reforms in Russia. Tatar State Council Chairman and TYG leader Mukhametshin said at the congress that the new social policy by the Kremlin is not clear to a major portion of the population. Mukhametshin added that Russian society has given in to pressure by supporters of "vertical power." He said he opposes taking away powers from the regions and sharply criticized initiatives to reform Russia's administrative-territorial system, which may result in redrawing the ethnic borders of regions that were established centuries ago. Mukhametshin added that TYG's decision to participate in the last elections with Unified Russia was correct, but that the current views of Unified Russia in the State Duma do not satisfy many supporters of TYG.

TYG unites 10 civic groups and has an additional thousands of other independent members, many of whom ran for the Tatar State Council in 2003 in alliance with Unified Russia. In May, TYG formed its own faction in Tatarstan's parliament.

German Citizen In Detention Complains Of Rights Violations
Lawyer Sergei Pronin released to the media on 5 July a letter by his client, German citizen Uwe Krueger, in which he cited violations by law-enforcement bodies in Tuben Kama, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 6 July.

Krueger, who is accused of illegally purchasing explosives, has been on a hunger strike since mid-May (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 1 July 2004). Krueger also said he was moved to a different prison after he complained about the conditions while in temporary detention in Minzele. Krueger said he was kept in one prison cell together with prisoners infected with tuberculosis despite a court order of solitary confinement for him. Krueger also said he was given injections of unknown substances. He has sent letters to Tatar President Shaimiev and Russian President Vladimir Putin about his plight but he believes police did not send them to the addressees. In response, the Tuben Kama Prosecutor's Office has said that Krueger's rights were not violated and there are no grounds for his appeal.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Parliament To Hear Draft Law On Same-Sex Marriages
The reading of a draft law legalizing same-sex marriages is included in the agenda of the Bashkir State Assembly session on 8 July, State Assembly Deputy Edvard Morzin (Yabloko) told RosBalt on 5 July. Previously, the State Assembly Committee on Labor, Social Issues, Family, Motherhood, and Childhood rejected the draft amendments to Bashkortostan's Family Code that were proposed by Morzin so the parliament will now consider the draft law as his personal initiative. The State Assembly is a unicameral body comprising 120 deputies, some 110 of whom represent Unified Russia.

Journalist Claims Persecution For Campaigning For Rakhimov's Rival
Fail Ekhmetshin, the deputy editor in chief of a Sharan Raion newspaper who was an adviser to Federation Council Senator Relif Safin in the December presidential elections and was dismissed from his post following the elections, told RFE/RL�s Tatar-Bashkir Service on 5 July that he has appealed his dismissal to the Bashkir Supreme Court. He said the Sharan Raion Court, under severe pressure from the republic's authorities, ruled that the dismissal was legal. The Supreme Court heard the case in Ekhmetshin's absence, who did not attend after having his request for a postponement denied, and reaffirmed the raion court verdict. Ekhmetshin said he disagrees with the decision and will appeal it to a higher court. A total of some 500 people in Bashkortostan claim to be the subject of persecution because they campaigned for rival candidates of President Murtaza Rakhimov in the December presidential election. They are planning to hold a meeting in the fall, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 5 July.

Three Chechen Drug Traffickers Arrested In Ufa
Three Chechens were detained in Ufa for selling and one kilogram of heroin, RosBalt reported on 5 July, citing the Bashkir Interior Ministry press service. The narcotics were seized during a special operation conducted by the Interior Ministry's criminal investigation and anti-organized crime departments. Two of those arrested, a 44-year-old from Orenburg and a 43-year-old resident of Kazakhstan, were arrested as they were selling 914 grams of heroin, while the third one was detained with 56 grams in a department store. The three are not registered in Ufa.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova