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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 12, 2004

12 October 2004
PACE Officials Visit Tatarstan
A delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) arrived on 11 October in Kazan for a three-day visit, and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the same day. PACE Monitoring Commission members Rudolf Bindig and David Atkinson are scheduled to study the situation concerning human rights and freedom of the press in Tatarstan. The trip, during which the parliamentarians also visited Sverdlovsk Oblast on 9-10 October, is part of a monitoring mission to check whether Russia has fufilled its obligations taken when it joined the Council of Europe eight years ago. Results of the visit will be included in a report on the situation in Russia that will be presented to PACE this month. The visitors will meet with human rights activists, religious leaders, representatives of political parties and mass media, and heads of national cultural autonomies. The delegation will also hold talks with members of the republican government, parliament, and law enforcement agencies.

Prime Minister Holds Talks In The Emirates
Visiting the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) on 11 October, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov held negotiations with the deputy crown prince, Armed Forces General Staff head Muhammad bin Zaid, on cooperation in aircraft and helicopter construction and machine building, Tatar-inform and reported the same day, citing the government press service. Deliveries of Tatar-produced vehicles and equipment to the U.A.E. were also on the agenda. Minnikhanov invited bin Zaid to visit Tatarstan. Russia's Ambassador to the U.A.E. Sergei Yakovlev, Tatar presidential adviser Timur Akulov, and KamAZ General Director Sergei Kogogin were among the delegation members.

Parliamentary Committee Supports Proposal To Remove Death Penalty Moratorium
The Tatar State Council's Committee on Legislation, Regulations, and Deputies' Ethics at its 11 October session backed an appeal by the Sakhalin Oblast duma to the Russian president to eliminate the moratorium on the death penalty for very serious crimes, Tatar-inform reported the same day. It is noted in the appeal that "the death a means of defending human society from 'monsters.'" "The United States is not ashamed to apply the death penalty in 38 states," Sakhalin Oblast deputies said. The introduction of the moratorium by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin "contradicted the will of the population." A similar appeal by the Orenburg Oblast Legislative Assembly to the Russian president, government, and the Federal Assembly on the adoption of urgent measures to counteract terrorism was also backed by the committee. Deputies voted unanimously to support both appeals.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashneft Traders Under Investigation In Kalmykia
The Kalmykia prosecutor's office filed on 30 September a criminal case accusing Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) traders of tax evasion in 2001-2002, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 8 October. Previously, the Tax Ministry has accused the Engan company, which was selling oil and oil products through Bashneft-TNK, with concealing 1.6 billion rubles ($55 million) of unpaid value-added tax (VAT) and fines. Engan was involved in the sale of oil products from Bashkir oil refineries to Rinex Energy, the Gibraltar division of Crown Resources, Kazakhstan's Binom, and subdivisions of Anfira Trading. Bashneft-TNK was established by Bashneft and TNK in 1998 to supply Bashkir oil refineries with oil. In 2001, Bashneft sold its 35 percent share in Bashneft-TNK to TNK's Crown Resources, while TNK sold 65 percent of the company to undisclosed buyers. In April, Bashneft-TNK was abolished.

Republic Day Celebrated In Bashkortostan
Republic Day was marked in Bashkortostan on 11 October, Bashkir and Russian media reported the same day. The holiday was established in 1990 when the republic's Declaration of Sovereignty was adopted. To mark the event, an overpass through Salawat Yulaev Avenue was opened in the republic's capital. The first new kindergarten in the last 15 years opened in Ufa, where 8,000 children are on waiting lists to attend nursery schools.

Ufa, Kazan Boost Cooperation
A visiting Tatar delegation led by Tatar State Council Deputy Indus Tahirov took part in a meeting of the Tatar-Bashkir bilateral commission established in June to promote cooperation between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 11 October. The Bashkir delegation is headed by Bashkir Academy of Sciences' History, Language, and Literature Institute Director Ildus Ileshev. The body passed a plan of activities for 2004-2005. The participants agreed that national republics should join forces to preserve their statehood in a globalizing world.

Four Bashkir Tourists Injured In Egypt Blasts
Four Bashkir residents were injured by terrorist blasts in the Egyptian resort of Taba on 8 October, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 11 October. The four were hospitalized. On 10 October, 165 Bashkir tourists returned to Ufa from Egypt. In total, 40 tourists from Bashkortostan were staying at the Taba Hilton that was targeted by suicide bombers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova