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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 17, 2004

17 September 2004
Belarusian Prime Minister Visits Tatarstan
A delegation headed by Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski arrived in Kazan on 16 September for a two-day visit, reported the same day. The delegation's agenda includes negotiations of cooperation between Tatarstan's YelAZ and Belarus's Minsk Tractor Plant, joint investment projects in the chemical and petrochemical sectors, and opening Belarusian trade house in Tatarstan. The visitors are scheduled to meet with Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov.

World Tatar Congress Develops Ties With China's Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Raion
A protocol of intent between the World Tatar Congress (BTK) Executive Committee and the Society for Research of Tatar Culture of China's Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Raion was signed in Kazan by BTK Executive Committee Chairman Rinat Zakirov and society Chairman Ilchi Sairani, Tatarinfo reported on 16 September. A delegation of the society is on a visit to Kazan. The protocol includes the exchange of delegations between the two bodies and deliveries of Tatar literature, video, and audiotapes to Xinjiang. The sides also stated the intention to promote contacts between businessmen of Tatarstan and Xinjiang.

Kazan Television Company Gets New Owner
StoryFirst Communications (SFC), the leading foreign investor in the Russian television and radio market and owner of the STS television station, purchased the Moscow M1 television station and St. Petersburg's Nevskii kanal, Kazan's Variant, and Perm's T-8 television stations, Interfax reported on 16 September. SFC President and STS General Director Aleksandr Rodnyanskii told a press conference on 15 September in Moscow that M1 will become a kernel of a new television network STS-media. Rodnyanskii said the deal was financed by Alfa-bank, which opened a $40 million line of credit to SFC.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Human Rights Activists Appeal To Russian President
Human rights activists held a press conference in Moscow on 16 September in the wake of a recent rally there calling for the dismissal of Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15 September 2004), Regnum reported on 16 September. Moscow Helsinki Group Chairman Lyudmila Alekseeva said some participants appealed in a letter addressed to President Vladimir Putin, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev, Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, and Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev to ensure that violent actions carried out by employees of law enforcement bodies, including killings and tortures resulting in death, are reported. They also called for the prevention of the hindrance of investigations into criminal cases against republican Interior Ministry employees and their relatives.

Rakhimov Calls Putin's Reform Proposals 'Democratic'
President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 16 September that Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent proposals for the reform of the political system will "actually lead the country along an democratic path." "What took place during the elections of heads of regions cannot be described as anything other than bacchanal," Rakhimov said. He added that "democracy cannot be implemented with the stroke of a pen if there are no century-long traditions of democratic will." Putin proposed that regional governors (except for the presidents of the republics) be nominated by the federation president and then approved by the local legislature. Those proposals have been criticized as undemocratic by the West. However, Rakhimov expressed confidence that the Russian president would appoint worthy candidates. However, he added, a procedure should be established that would allow the veto of appointments, and make them subject to parliamentary approval.

Rakhimov continued that he supports setting up a similar system for appointing heads of raion administration. He said the republic is among Russia's leaders in terms of practically all socioeconomic parameters, which he added is "the result of 100-percent manageability." Rakhimov called for making some federal bodies subordinate to governates, which he said would "drastically reduce the army of Russian bureaucrats whose number exceeds all reasonable limits."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova