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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 4, 2003

4 April 2003
Unified Russia Holds Meeting Against War In Iraq...
Unified Russia in Bashkortostan and Youth Unity held a meeting in Ufa on 3 April to protest the war in Iraq, RosBalt reported the same day. The news agency said the action involved some 1,000 participants, while an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day there were some 500. The protesters held slogans such as "Freedom to Iraqi people," "Unified Russia against the aggression in the Middle East." The meeting passed a resolution demanding that the military action in Iraq be stopped and saying that the war could develop into a worldwide conflict. Protesters said the Iraqi issue can be resolved by peaceful means with respect to the legal interests of the Iraqi people, its sovereignty, and the territorial integrity of the country. The resolution is intended to be passed to U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow.

...As Islamic Leader Announces Jihad Against Coalition Forces...
Speaking at the antiwar meeting in Ufa on 3 April, Central Muslim Religious Board (TsDUM) Chairman Telget Tajetdin said the heads of TsDUM's 29 regional departments voted on 3 April by fax to announce a jihad against the coalition countries, "Kommersant" reported on 4 April. Tajetdin said it is the second time in contemporary Russian history that a jihad was announced, the first one began in 1941 against Nazi Germany. Commenting on Tajetdin's statements, the leader of Unified Russia in Bashkortostan, Rostem Ekhmedinurov, told the daily that the mufti's position "does not reflect that of the party" and is a "fanatical one." The head of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry office in Ufa, Zinnur Merdenov, said jihad can be interpreted as a feeling of hatred to enemies in one's heart, something that is not prohibited for anybody.

The head of the Islamic Committee of Russia, Heidar Jemal, labeled Tajetdin as a "provocateur hoping to draw a reciprocal reaction." The deputy head of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Damir Gyizetullin, said, "We can only announce compassion and praying for the soonest end to the war," adding that what Tajetdin calls for is prohibited by Russian legislation. A department head of the Russian Justice Ministry, Sergei Nikulin, said if moral and material aid to religious kin is meant by the decree then this is not prohibited, but if attempts to recruit volunteers or deliver arms to Iraq are made, such actions will be prosecuted.

...While Bashkir Nationalists Prohibited From Staging Antiwar Action
Bashkir national movement leader Marat Qolsheripov told on 3 April that Bashkir civic groups appealed several days ago to Ufa authorities for permission to hold a demonstration against the war in Iraq but were refused. Meanwhile, during the 3 April protest organized by Unified Russia, city authorities blocked nearby streets to provide better conditions for the event. The website commented that Unified Russia was given preference as local authorities promote its image in the run up to the December State Duma elections.

Deputies Of Volga Federal District Envoy Visit Ufa
Deputies of the envoy of the Volga Federal District, Valentin Stepankov and Leonid Gilchenko, arrived on 3 April in Ufa for a two-day visit, RosBalt reported the same day. On 4 April, Gilchenko is scheduled to take part in the opening ceremony of a public reception office of the chief federal inspector in Bashkortostan and hold a reception for residents. Stepankov is to hold a meeting of the heads of the Russian Federal Security Service regional directorates devoted to the organization of antiterrorist measures in the district and to meet with President Murtaza Rakhimov and Bashkir Supreme Court Chairman Marat Wekilov. The two will also take part in the celebration of the 85th anniversary of Bashkortostan's state security bodies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova