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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 28, 2004

28 December 2004
Strasbourg Court To Hear On Lawsuit Promoting Tatar Latin Alphabet
St. Petersburg resident Chulpan Bolgari told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 26 December that his appeal against the prohibition by the Russian government on the introduction of Latin script in Tatarstan has been accepted for consideration by the Strasbourg-based International Court of Human Rights. In 2003, Bolgari's appeal to the Russian Constitutional Court was denied because it does not hear claims by individuals. In his latest appeal, Bolgari reportedly listed five articles of the Russian Constitution that violate the law stipulating the mandatory use of the Cyrillic script by all state languages in Russia, which was passed by the Federal Assembly and signed into law by the Russian president.

Tatarstan Is Largest Contributor To Volga Federal District Budget
Tatarstan provided the largest contribution to the federal budget among Volga Federal District entities in the first eleven months of 2004, accounting for 17.5 percent of the district budget. Tatarstan was followed by Bashkortostan and Samara Oblast with 13.7 percent each and Perm Oblast with 10.7 percent, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 28 December, citing the Volga Federal District press service. In Tatarstan, transfers to the federal budget increased during the same period by 38 percent while in Bashkortostan they decreased by 9.3 percent. Regional budget revenues grew in all of the district's regions in comparison to the same period in 2003, with the exception of Bashkortostan, where revenues fell by 3.4 percent, or 2.3 billion rubles. Mordovia, Tatarstan, Orenburg, and Perm oblasts posted gains of more than 30 percent.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Human Rights Organizations To Investigate Alleged Violations By Interior Ministry In Blagoveshchensk
Some 1,000 people, predominantly men between 14 and 40 years old, were detained by interior bodies in Blagoveshchensk, Bashkortostan, in an operation carried out by the Interior Ministry's local bodies on 10-13 December, Ekho Moskvy and "Izvestiya" reported on 24 and 27 December, respectively. Bashkir Interior Ministry press service head Ruslan Sherefetdinov told Regnum on 27 December that all 130 employees of the Blagoveshchensk town and raion interior bodies and 15 special detachment privates took part in the operation.

The operation came in the wake of an 8 December incident in which several local Interior Ministry employees were beaten by a crowd of people and three of them were hospitalized. In reaction, Interior Ministry special detachments carried out an operation in which young men were arrested in discos, clubs, cinemas, and in their apartments. Many detainees claimed to have been subjected to physical punishment and about 100 reportedly sought medical aid after their release.

At a press conference in Moscow on 27 December devoted to the events in Blagoveshchensk, For Human Rights head Lev Ponomarev said that the "Chechen-ization of Russia is taking place."

Moscow Helsinki Group Head Lyudmila Alekseeva said at the press conference that human rights organizations plan to conduct an independent public investigation into the events in Blagoveshchensk. An appeal to Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev signed by 75 residents of the village of Ilyino-Polyana, as well as the results of medical examinations of people who claim to have been assaulted by police during the action were introduced at the press conference. Russian Human Rights Representative Vladimir Lukin sent a telegram to Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov to investigate the matter.

Bashkir Authorities Keep Pressure On Supreme Court Chairman
Bashkortostan's State Assembly on 16 December passed an appeal calling for the dismissal of Bashkortostan's Supreme Court Chairman Marat Wekilov, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 26 December. It was the fifth such move by the Bashkir parliament against Wekilov. The republican leadership began focusing Wekilov after the Bashkir Supreme Court under his guidance annulled some articles of the Bashkir Constitution as contradicting Russian law (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 20 March, and 15 and 19 April 2002). Wekilov subsequently faced allegations of corruption that were then dropped.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova