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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 6, 2004

6 August 2004
Moscow Allots More Money For Kazan Subway Construction
The Russian government has allocated an additional 900 million rubles ($30.8 million) to Tatarstan's government this year for the construction of Kazan's subway, AK&M reported on 5 August, citing the Russian government's press service. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed a corresponding resolution to this effect on 29 July. The total sum from the Russian Finance Ministry this year for the project is 1.28 billion rubles.

Federal Interior Forces To Be Sent To Kazan During Millennium Celebrations
Interior Ministry forces from different Russia's regions will be involved in providing public order and safety during celebrations of the Kazan millennium next August, RIA-Novosti reported on 5 August, citing the Tatar Interior Ministry's press service. The issue was on the agenda of a meeting between Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov and Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev on 4 August in Moscow devoted to preparations for Kazan's millennium festivities. The officials also discussed how to finance those events. Nurgaliev stressed that the importance of preparatory measures for the event and ordered a staff to be formed, under the guidance of Russian Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Chekalin, to plan the jubilee.

Four Legislatures Heads Consider Self-Governance Legislation
Parliament speakers from the Tatar and Bashkir republics and the Orenburg and Samara oblasts met in Bauly on 5 August to consider legislation regarding the activities of local governments, reported the same day, citing the Tatarstan State Council's press service. Speaking at the event, Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin stressed the importance of dividing property and powers between state bodies and municipalities and to clearly determining the borders of municipalities. Participants in the meeting adopted a protocol to hold a meeting of the heads of the legislative bodies of the Association for Economic Cooperation in the Greater Volga in order to discuss legislative issues for local governments. Tatar First Deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov attended the meeting.

BTIU Head Resigns
Tatar Public Center (BTIU) Chairman Reshit Jegeferov announced that he will resign from his post, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 5 August. He explained his move by saying it was due to a split that had occurred within the BTIU leadership. A group of people opposed to the BTIU leader formed within the organization a year ago and on 17 June that movement elected veteran Mars Shemsetdinov as the new chairman without consulting Jegeferov or the BTIU presidium. The group suggested that Jegeferov leave his post without discussing the issue either at a presidium session or at a BTIU plenum. At its 7 July meeting the BTIU presidium issued a resolution saying that Shemsetdinov's election was illegitimate. The presidium asked Jegeferov, after he announced his intention to resign, to continue performing his duties until the next plenum slated for October. The republic's mass media outlets, however, reported on 5 August that Jegeferov was going to step down.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Protest Against Violations By Bashkir Interior Ministry Forces Held In Nizhnii
Some 13 people staged a protest against corruption by Bashkir law-enforcement bodies on 5 August in Nizhnii Novgorod, NTA-Privolzhe reported the same day. The protesters demanded that Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev and the head of the Russian Interior Ministry's Chief Directorate in the Volga Federal District, Vladimir Shcherbakov, be dismissed. On 15 July, a similar action took place in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 16 July 2004). Relatives of people who died while detained by Bashkir law-enforcement agencies and human-rights activists took part in the action. Vyacheslav Bikbulatov, a coordinator of the human-rights movement in Bashkortostan, told the news agency that 43 people have died in Bashkortostan's pretrial detention centers in the last four years. The demonstrators want to meet with Volga Federal District officials and plan to continue their action on 6 August. The agency quoted an unnamed source in the district administration as commenting that allegations of inactivity on the part of district officials are unfounded since "in response to the appeals of victims, the Russian Interior Ministry, with our support, have repeatedly inspected the activities of the Bashkir [Interior] Ministry. As a result, [Bashkir] First Deputy Minister Nikolai Patrikeev was dismissed while Minister Rafail Divaev was rebuked."

Russia's Biggest Glass-Package Plant To Be Built In Bashkortostan
Under an agreement signed by Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and the president of Turkey's Anadolu Cam Sanayii A.S., Teoman Yenigun, on 4 August in Ufa, the Turkish company will construct a glass-packaging plant in Bashkortostan, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 6 August. The Turkish side will invest 50 million euros in the project. Anadolu Can Sanayii A.S. is a division of Turkey's leading glass concern, Sisecam. On 9 July, Bashkir Prime Minister Baidavletov promised tax breaks for the Anadolu Group and the Efes Beverage Group in exchange for investing 75 million euros in republic's beer industry. The previous year, Efes purchased the Ufa brewery Amstar. Under the 4 August protocol, the first line of the glass-packaging plant will be launched in July while by April 2006, the total production volume will reach 700 million bottles a year.

Bashkir, Tatar Mass Media Ordered To Help Improve Tatar-Bashkir Relations...
The heads of a number of Bashkortostan's and Tatarstan's mass media outlets held a meeting to discuss the process of improving relations between the two republics, a process that was recently initiated by the Bashkir and Tatar presidential administrations, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 5 August. It was agreed on at the gathering that only "friendly" reports about the other republic should be published in the republics. In the wake of the meeting, Bashkortostan's official media outlets have published only positive articles about Tatarstan and the issue of ethnicity.

...As Scholar Conflicts Reason Within Bashkortostan
Ildar Gebdrefiqov, an ethnosociologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Ufa Scientific Center, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 5 August that an improvement of relations between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan depends on resolving issues related to Bashkortostan's Tatars. It is issues of the Tatar language and the rights of Bashkortostan's Tatars that has led to the conflict between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, he said. He added that the current aspiration for better relations is a good thing but that the conditions for it should be provided within Bashkortostan's borders. The conflict exists, in fact, between Bashkortostan's authorities and Bashkortostan's Tatars, not between the leaders of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, so it is Bashkir officials and Bashkortostan's Tatars who should sit at the table and negotiate, Gebdrefiqov said. Speculating about the reasons behind the efforts of the two republics' leaders to improve bilateral relations, the scholar said a trend toward centralism is growing in Moscow and the regional elites can only oppose such a trend by joining efforts. Mutual support will also be necessary for the republics' leaders during electoral campaigns, Gebdrefiqov said. He added, however, that the issue of Bashkortostan's Tatars needs to be resolved soon because they cannot exist forever in a democratic entity.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova