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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 29, 2004

29 December 2004
Court Annuls Tatarstan's Law On Restoration Of Tatar Latin Script
Tatarstan's Supreme Court on 28 December ruled that a case filed by Tatarstan's prosecutor against the 1999 Tatar law allowing for the use of Latin script for the Tatar alphabet contradicted federal legislation, Tatar-inform and Regnum reported. The prosecutor contested the law in the court in January 2004. In March, the court froze hearing the case pending consideration of the issue by the Russian Constitutional Court, which on 16 November issued a verdict prohibiting Russian republics from choosing scripts for their official languages on their own. The Tatar Supreme Court ruled that the verdict on the annulment of the 1999 law will come into force in 10 days.

Tatar State Council Culture, Science, Education, and National Issues Committee Chairman Razil Weliev said the verdict of the court was "political, not legal." Weliev said that by passing the 16 November verdict, the Russian Constitutional Court violated provisions of the Russian Constitution and international law, including the Strasbourg framework convention of the Council of Europe on the protection of national minorities. In 2003, Tatarstan's Constitutional Court issued a verdict recognizing the right of republics to choose scripts of their official languages on their own.

Meanwhile, Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin told a press conference on 28 December that the ongoing experiment on teaching Tatar in Latin script in secondary schools will be continued. He said that "in the future, we will possibly raise the issue on the transition of the Tatar alphabet to the Latin script and appeal to the federal legislature with such a proposal."

Public Figures Protest Against Perceived Discrimination Against Muslims
A group of public and political activists in Tatarstan have sent a letter to leaders of Islamic countries regarding mass arrests of Muslims in Russia and asking for help, Ekho Moskvy reported on 28 December. The activists claimed in the letter that detainees are being held for investigation without being told why they are being held. Close relatives are not permitted to visit detainees suspected of having ties with Muslim organizations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir. Among those arrested, most of whom are men between 20 and 30 years old, there are some 20 residents of Chally, 16 people from Bashkortostan, more than 20 from Nizhnii Novgorod, and some 20 Kazan residents. The rest are from other towns of Tatarstan and regions of Russia.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Russian Interior Officials Meet With Human Rights Defenders Regarding Crackdown In Blagoveshchensk...
Russian Interior Ministry officials met on 28 December with human rights activists in Bashkortostan to discuss recent events in Blagoveshchensk (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 December 2004), Regnum reported the same day. Major General Nikolai Mamontov, the deputy head of the ministry's Chief Inspectorate Board, and Valerii Gribakin, the acting head of the Information, Regional, and Public Relations Board took part in a two-hour meeting during which human rights activists presented appeals by alleged victims of a 10-13 December crackdown carried out by Bashkortostan's Interior Ministry in Blagoveshchensk. Ildar Isengulov, the head of Bashkortostan's For Human Rights movement, told the news agency that human rights activists were told that Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev has ordered an investigation into the events in Blagoveshchensk.

...As Bashkir Prosecutor Says He Not Aware Of Violations
Acting Bashkortostan's Prosecutor Mikhail Zelepukin told Interfax on 28 December that he plans to look into the possibility that human rights violations may have occurred during the coarse of the crackdown in Blagoveshchensk on 10-13 December. Zelepukin said during a press conference in Ufa on 28 December that he has yet to hear of any such violations committed by interior bodies in Blagoveshchensk, although human rights activists have claimed that violations took place. He said not a single appeal from residents has been received by prosecutor's bodies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova