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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 2, 2003

2 January 2003
Lawmaker Denies Charges Of Organizing Killing
In an interview published in "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 28 December, Tatar State Council Deputy Rustam Zakirov denied charges that he organized the killing of Refis Seyetov, head of the Egerje Raion administration, who was shot dead outside his home on 31 August 2002 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 and 18 September and 11 November 2002, "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 13 September 2002). Zakirov, 38, who was Seyetov's predecessor as administration head, was arrested in late October and is still in detention. Zakirov said he has "a 100 percent alibi" that he will reveal only during a court hearing, and he also labeled all accusations against him as slander. Zakirov also denied rumors that $3 million was found during a search of his home. Zakirov claimed that Seyetov was afraid of his authority in the raion and always tried to blacken his reputation.

Zakirov said that no physical violence had been used against him during the investigation, claiming that investigators told him that "[Tatar] President [Mintimer Shaimiev] had forbidden it." He did say, however, that he was pressured to sign a confession saying that he organized the killing. He also claimed that investigators have told him that they have been ordered to convict him and that they will do this in any case, though they know he is innocent.

Federal Commission 'Satisfied' With Work Of Tatar Interior Ministry
Speaking at a meeting of the Tatar Interior Ministry administration on 27 December, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Chekalin announced the results of an inspection of the ministry's work that was carried out in December by a commission of the federal Interior Ministry headed by the senior inspector of the Main Inspectorate, Colonel Valerii Krasnov, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 28 December. Chekalin noted the ministry's positive results in preventing crime in the republic, and in particular, he praised Tatarstan's approach to fighting organized crime, saying that this begins with fighting economic crimes, which, he said, are at the root of all crimes. The federal commission concluded that the work of the Tatar Interior Ministry is "satisfactory" and that the ministry has improved since the time of the previous inspection in 1997 in the areas of personnel policy and management, among others, and that the ministry enjoyed the trust of the republic's residents. The commission also noted shortcomings in the ministry's work, including in the investigation of property-related crimes.

Meanwhile, the daily also reported that organs of the Interior Ministry in Kazan are facing a possible 65 percent staff reduction due to a lack of financing.

Preliminary Census Results Show Increase In Tatar Population
The chairman of the Tatar State Statistics Committee, Valerii Kandilov, said on 27 December that, in accordance with preliminary data from the Russian census held in October, Tatarstan's population has increased by 3 percent since the last census in 1989, which registered 3,768,000 residents in the republic, reported the same day. In addition, Tatar State Council deputy Indus Tahirov also claimed that, according to preliminary census results, the Tatar population in Moscow and Moscow Oblast increased from 250,000 to 1,100,000, and he said that a similar increase was seen in other parts of Russia, "Shehri Qazan" daily reported on 31 December.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Nationalist Speaks Out Against New Constitution
Marat Qolsheripov, a leading ideologist in the Bashkir national movement, told RFE/RL on 1 January that the new Bashkir Constitution "represents a step backward from the achievements of 1993 constitution, [and it] takes away most of our [Bashkir] rights." Qolsheripov said that, "not only the definition of Bashkortostan's sovereignty but also references to the right to self-determination of the republic's peoples [were removed from the new constitution]. Knowing that this right was the starting point for establishing an autonomous Bashkir republic, it is possible to conclude that Moscow is moving toward abolishing ethnic republics [in the Russian Federation."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi