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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 20, 2004

20 October 2004
Ryzhkov: Appointment Of Tatar President Violates Russian Constitution
In an interview published in "Novaya gazeta" on 18 October, State Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov (independent) said the idea of appointing the president of Tatarstan greatly "exceeds the bounds of the constitution and a federative system." Ryzhkov argued that "our republics have sovereignty, though it is restricted. And sovereignty is incompatible with the appointment of a head of a republic being, as a matter of fact, a state, something that is established in the Russian Constitution." Ryzhkov added that "the head of one state cannot appoint the head of another state from above. But exactly this is virtually suggested by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."

Civic Group To Demonstrate Against Proposed Administrative Reform
Creation movement leader Airat Sheripov told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 19 October that the movement has obtained permission to organizing a demonstration on 23 October in downtown Kazan to protest the administrative reform proposed by President Putin. Sheripov said the demonstration will be aimed at defending people's right of electing the head of the republic, democratic achievements, civic rights and freedoms, and the constitution.

Tatarstan Mufti Criticizes Government Official
The chairman of the Council on Religious Affairs under the Tatar Cabinet of Ministers, Rinat Nebiev, said he has recommended that Tatarstan's Muslim Spiritual Directorate (TUDN) replace the rector of Elmet Rizaetdin Fekhretdin madrasah, Jelil Khelirakhmanov, reported on 19 October. The formal grounds for the move was the fact that the rector has not followed recommendations by the Council on Religious Affairs to raise his level of professional qualification at either the Russian Islamic University or a secular higher-educational institution. Khelirakhmanov has a secondary-school secular education and a higher education received in Saudi Arabia. It was noted at the September meeting of Tatarstan's Security Council that there are Wahhabis at the Elmet madrasah.

Nebiev's statement came in the wake of strong criticism voiced against him by TUDN Chairman Gosman Iskhaqov at the TUDN plenum in Mamadysh on 12 October. Iskhaqov said Nebiev does not provide enough support for Tatarstan's Muslims and does not answer allegations in the national media that pseudo-Islamic extremism is widespread in Tatarstan.

Kazan Water Park Closed For Construction Violations
A water park that opened in Kazan in November has been closed indefinitely, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 20 October. A study by scholars from the Kazan State Architecture Construction Academy and leading designers revealed violations of construction rules in the facility. Some 1 billion rubles ($34.3 million) were invested in the complex, among the largest water parks in Russia and Europe.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tax Ministry Seeks To Revive Baikonur Cases
The Russian Tax Ministry has appealed to Russia's Supreme Arbitration Court to revise the Baikonur cases under which Ufa oil refineries were accused of evading taxes, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 20 October. The lawsuits were initiated by the leadership of the Ufa Oil Refinery, Novoufimskii Oil Refinery, and Ufaneftekhim against the Tax Ministry, which has demanded that the refineries pay an additional 12 billion rubles ($412 million) in fines (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 February, 13 and 20 March, 26 May, 6 June, 17, 18, and 23 July, and 24 October 2003, and 9 April 2004, and "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 March 2003). The Tax Ministry, which lost suits in the Bashkir Arbitration Court, its appeal body, and the Ural Federal District Arbitration Court, continues to stick to its guns.

Bashkortostan Opens Representation In Orenburg
Bashkortostan opened on 19 October representation in Orenburg, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. A visiting delegation headed by Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister Boris Kolbin attended the opening ceremony. SVS company head Sergei Katasonov was appointed Bashkortostan's representative to the oblast, while SVS will fulfill the functions of the republic's mission. Established in 1995, SVS assembles heating and water-supply systems.

Bashkir World Congress Orenburg branch member Salawat Aqdewletov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 19 October that the oblast's Bashkirs face difficulties in opening Bashkir schools and satisfying their national-cultural needs. Aqdewletov also said Bashkir organizations are no longer active in the oblast and national spirit is dying away among local Bashkirs. He said the number of Orenburg Oblast Bashkirs fell from 53,300 in the 1989 census to 52,600 in the 2002 census.

Former Interior Ministry Official Arrested For Extortion
Former head of the Ufa Demskii Raion Interior Ministry's economic-crime department was arrested on 18 October in Ufa as he was accepting 12,000 rubles from a seller of the Ufapromtorg market, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 20 October. For the money he was allegedly extorting from the woman, the officer promised her that a criminal case on embezzlement will not be filed against her.

On 30 September, the officer resigned from the Interior Ministry and entered the Ufa Legal Institute of the Russian Interior Ministry. Since he was no longer an official in the economic-crimes department at the time of the incident, he cannot be charged with accepting a bribe. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova