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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 7, 2003

7 April 2003
Kama Bridge To Be Widened
The federal budget will allocate 470 million rubles ($15 million) this year for the construction of a second lane of the Kama bridge near Sayesqan Tawi, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 4 April. This information was made public at a meeting led by Tatar Transport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shvetsov at his ministry on 3 April. The Tatar budget was charged with allocating another 500 million rubles for the project. The first lane of the bridge was launched in August.

Ukrainian Culture Festival Held
The second festival of Ukrainian culture was held in Kazan, Chally, and Tuben Kama, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 4 April. The forum included a roundtable on issues of the Ukrainian community and education in Ukrainian, theater performances, and shows of vocal and dance groups.

Heroin Seized In Kazan
More than 2.5 kilograms of heroin were seized in Kazan from a resident of Kyrgyzstan, reported on 5 April, citing the Tatar Interior Ministry's press service.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Prosecutor's Office Warns Tajetdin After Controversial Statement
Deputy presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Valentin Stepankov, visiting Ufa on 4 April, said that the republic's prosecutor's office "is now considering the ways of reacting to the statement" by Central Muslim Religious Board head Telget Tajetdin, who during a 3 April antiwar demonstration in Ufa declared jihad against the anti-Iraq coalition countries, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

He said that "in the current political situation any emotionally driven statements only enflame the situation in Russia.... It's one thing when a mufti urges people to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq and another when he calls for collecting arms and taking part in combat actions, which is on the brink of a criminal offense."

Also on 4 April, RosBalt cited the Bashkir Prosecutor's Office as confirming that Prosecutor Florid Baikov issued a warning to Tajetdin, saying that his statement violated the federal law on extremist activities and mentioning the possible legal consequences of this violation.

Chief FSB Official In Bashkortostan Cites Ongoing Intelligence Wars...
During the 4 April celebrations of the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the State Security Service in Bashkortostan, local Federal Security Service (FSB) branch head Igor Chernokov said that his organization resumed focus on "counteracting the efforts of foreign intelligence, terrorism, and organized crime enforcement, as well as monitoring the lawfulness of economic reforms-related procedures," such as privatization of local industries, RosBalt reported on 4 April.

He cited the "enormous interest of foreign intelligence in Bashkortostan, especially the Turkish special services." Chernokov added, "In 2002, dozens of Turkish citizens were expelled from Russia...including the followers of untraditional Islam, members of the radical and nationalist sects Suleymanci and Nurcular" for violating its laws on the territory of Bashkortostan.

...As Inspections Reveal Insufficient Counterterrorism Measures
Deputy presidential envoy to the Vogla Federal District Stepankov told a meeting of Bashkortostan's Counterterrorism Commission on 4 April that the republic lagged behind the other regions of the Volga Federal District in vigilance measures for preventing possible acts of terrorism, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday.

He said inspections conducted by the federal special services revealed "insufficient security measures at such important sites as the airport, railroad station, and the intercity bus station. For example, a number of fake explosives were left in a visible place inside these locations but no reaction came within an hour after it happened." Stepankov said that a lack of vigilance among police patrols was the main reason for this, "because other services responded immediately after receiving the alert signal."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi