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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 14, 2003

14 April 2003
Parliament Votes To Replace Representative To Federation Council...
Tatarstan's State Council voted to recall the republic's representative in the Russian Federation Council, Refget Altynbaev, on 11 April, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. According to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev during the parliamentary session, he had already signed the decree dismissing Altynbaev on 7 April, but the decree had to be authorized by the council to take effect.

Shaimiev said that "every citizen has the right to define himself, especially someone who wants to be a political leader" and that Altynbaev had "made his choice." As Altynbaev is co-chairman of Russia's Party of Life, Shaimiev said that he couldn't have a representative who was working at cross purposes. For his part, Altynbaev thanked Shaimiev for teaching him "how not to bend myself before the circumstances and not to depend on the state of political affairs." He said that he would not back away from his position adding: "Criticism began disappearing from our political life and you [Shaimiev] got used to your words being the final truth. A civil position was called opposition and gradually all of the people with their own opinions have left the republic."

Altynbaev will formally retain his powers as a Federation Council senator until its next session on 23 April.

...And Registers Unified Russia Faction
During the same session, 41 deputies of established a faction of the Unified Russia party to be led by Yurii Nazmeev, who is also the political council secretary in the regional Unified Russia branch. The new faction will be the majority parliamentary group, with the previously formed Yanga Gasir group and the group for protection of Tatarstan's producers following with 14 and 15 members, respectively.

Supreme Court Dismisses Kashapov's Appeal
On 11 April, Tatarstan's Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by Refis Kashapov, leader of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) branch in Chally, who was arrested on 25 March on charges of inciting interethnic and interconfessional discord, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 14 April. Kashapov was arrested in October 2002 during the investigation of an act of vandalism at the construction site of the St. Tatyana church in Chally's Victory Park (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 26 March 2003).

Interior Ministry Seizes Drug Laboratory In Kazan
Tatarstan's Interior Ministry has arrested two Kazan university students, aged 25 and 19, who created a home drug laboratory, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 12 April. The young men allegedly invented a synthetic drug that is 10 times more intoxicating than LSD and five times more impairing than heroin but is not strongly addictive. After seizing the lab, police were reportedly "shocked" to discover samples of hexogen, an extremely explosive material, which was also produced and offered for sale by the students.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Parliament Holds First Session, Re-Elects Speaker
At its first plenary session on 11 April, the newly-elected Bashkir State Assembly reelected Konstantin Tolkachev as its chairman, Bashinform reported the same day. Tolkachev, 50, a law professor, has been the Bashkir parliament speaker since 1999. Former Ufa Aviation University rector Salawat Qusymov was elected deputy chairman of the State Assembly. In the previous Bashkir legislature, Qusymov was deputy speaker of its upper Chamber of Representatives.

Members of Unified Russia's Bashkir branch will head five of the seven committees in parliament. Former minister Lev Bakusov became chairman of the Budget, Tax, Finance, and Property Issues Committee; Marat Kharisov will head the Legislation, State System, and Legal Issues Committee; Zofer Yenikeev will chair the Local Self Government, Nationalities Affairs, Public, and Religious Organizations Committee; Zifqet SeetgAliyev the Agrarian Issues, Natural Resources, and Environment Committee; and Elfie Sharafetdinova will chair the Labor, Social Issues, Family, Motherhood, Childhood, and Health Care Committee. Former Salavatnefteorgsintez General Director Nail Qotlygildin was elected head of the Industry, Construction, Transport, Communications, Power Engineering, and Businesses Committee; and the former deputy speaker of parliament's lower legislative chamber, Rafail Mirseev, will head the Education, Science, Culture, Sport, Tourism, and Youth Affairs Committee.

Deputies also reelected Igor Izmestyev as the State Assembly's representative to the Federation Council. Izmestyev has been representing the Bashkir legislature in the Federation Council since December 2001 and was a member of the Industrial Policy Committee.

Bashkortostan, Germany To Boost Ties
During a visit by the Bashkir delegation to the German state of Saxony from 8-10 April, Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and Saxon Prime Minister Joerg Milbradt signed a cooperation protocol to mark the 10th anniversary of cooperation between the two sides and determine the shape of further cooperation, Bashinform reported on 11 April. Visitors, including government officials and directors of companies, took part in celebrations devoted to the jubilee and held negotiations with German businessmen. Press and Mass Communications Minister Zofer Timerbulatov and Bashkortostan Publishing House Director Anatolii Bezrukavnikov concluded a 1 million euro ($1.1 million) contract with the Man Roland plant for the delivery of equipment to Bashkortostan. Bashlesprom General Director Timur Kiladze signed a contract with the Saxony Land Bank on the delivery to the republic of 3 million euros worth of woodworking equipment produced by the Gerischer & Schroeder company. It was agreed that a joint venture between the Beloretsk Metallurgy Plant and the German Kuster firm will be established and employ some 300 workers.

Germany, which provided one-third of foreign investments in the Bashkir economy, invested $255 million in the republic in 2002.

Explosion Kills Two
Two employees of the Bashneft oil company were killed on 11 April by a chemical explosion during welding work in Tuimazy, Bashinform reported on 12 April, citing the Emergency Situations Ministry. According to the report, the workers violated fire-safety rules.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova