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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 4, 2003

4 July 2003
Volga Federal District Governors Gather In Kazan To Discuss Development Strategies...
The heads of Volga Federal District entities and the speakers of regional parliaments gathered on 3 July in Kazan for a two-day forum on strategies of regional development, republican media reported the same day. Speaking at the forum, its co-chair, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, said no strategy of development for the country has been developed in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the goal of doubling the country's gross domestic product within a decade, but Russia's current social-economic program does not clarify how it can be fulfilled so regions must develop their own programs, Shaimiev said. He also said that there is insufficient cooperation between regions and called for developing joint projects between Volga Federal District entities in machine building, ship building, and the production of equipment for the oil and gas sectors. Shaimiev also criticized federal laws that contradict the Russian Constitution and encroach upon the powers of regions and the establishment of parallel federal and regional governing bodies.

Presidential Volga Federal District envoy Sergei Kirienko, who also co-chairs the forum, said the gathering will contribute to the development of a new package of economic programs aimed at doubling gross domestic product. This package can be based on the unique experience of such regions as Tatarstan, Kirienko added.

...Hold Greater Volga Meeting
The officials from the regions of the Volga Federal District held in Kazan on 3 July a session of the interregional association Greater Volga, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The association's vice president, Penza Oblast Governor Vasilii Bochkarev, was elected as the new president of the organization, while Chavash President Nikolai Fedorov was named the vice president. Bochkarev replaces Mordovian President Nikolai Merkushkin. The Saratov Oblast was withdrawn from the association at the request of Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov, who said the association in its current shape is inefficient. It is necessary to create a new body on a different basis, Ayatskov said, adding that only regions in the Volga Federal District should be allowed as members. Currently, the Greater Volga unites 12 entities of the Volga region as well as the Volgograd and Astrakhan oblasts, which do not belong to the Volga Federal District. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev also said that the association's activity is not adequately recognized by federal bodies.

Trial Of Controversial Chally Church Case Starts
The Chally Criminal Court began on 3 July a trial against three elderly women who allegedly destroyed on 1 October the foundation of the chapel of St. Tatiana's Church, which was under construction (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, and 31 October, 4 and 25 November 2002), reported the same day. Neonila Fazlyeva, Marzyia Shakirova, and Asyie Zinnurova are accused of intentional destruction of property, vandalism, and rousing interethnic and religious hatred, for which they can be sentenced to up to four years in prison. Prosecutors demanded that the women not receive only conditional terms. The women were detained at the construction site after the foundation was destroyed and said they did it as a protest against the illegal construction of an Orthodox church near Victory Park, which belongs to followers of all religions. Later, a court recognized that allotting the land near the Victory Park for the construction of St. Tatiana's Church was illegal and another plot of land was allotted for the construction (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 and 30 December 2002). On the eve of the trial, however, the women began recanting their guilt in the case.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Court Rules That Search In Mezhprombank Office Illegal...
The Ufa Lenin Raion court ruled on 3 July that the search in the Mezhprombank's Ufa branch by the Bashkir Interior Ministry on 11 June as part of the investigation of a fraud case involving the bank's promissory notes (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12, 17, 18, and 25 June 2003) was illegal, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. According to the court resolution, ministry employees violated legal procedures during the search. Mezhprombank appealed against the action after police seized documents, several computers, and stamps from the office. The appeal claimed that Interior Ministry employees were used as witnesses during the search and that documents with no relation to the criminal case were seized.

...As Mezhprombank Demands That Ministry Pays For Damages
The head of the legal directorate of Mezhprombank's Ufa branch, Aleksandr Panishev, said on 3 July that the bank will file a suit to demand that the Bashkir interior minister pay for the damages caused during the 11 June search in the bank's Ufa office, RosBalt reported the same day. Panishev refused to announce the cost of the damage and only said that it has been calculated. He said the sum includes only damage that resulted directly from the bank's period of nonoperation during the six hours the search lasted. The bank also will demand that interior bodies give back seized property and documents.

Bashkir Refineries To Appeal Against Tax Ministry's Decision On Baikonur Case
Ilshat Gyimadrislamov, a lawyer representing the interests of three Bashkir oil refineries, told RosBalt on 3 July that they will appeal to an arbitration court against the demand by the Russian Tax Ministry that the refineries pay an additional 12 billion rubles in taxes to the federal budget (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 February, 13, 20 March, and 26 May 2003, and "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 March 2003). Gyimadrislamov said the appeals will be sent after an official resolution from the ministry on the results of the audit held at the plants is available.

The ministry accuses the Ufa refinery, the Novo-ufimskii refinery, and Ufaneftekhim of illegally using tax breaks in the Baikonur off-shore zone, while the Bashkir authorities deny the accusations, saying that it wasn't the refineries but its partners, including the Korus-Baikonur and Bort-M companies that rented the equipment from them and used the tax breaks. According to another report, however, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov has agreed to ministry's demands (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 June 2003).

Environmental Expedition On Yq River
The Yq regional department of the International Social Environmental Union began on 3 July its 12th environmental expedition on the Yq river, Bashinform reported the same day. Twenty participants in the event will travel for 10 days in 13 raions of Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Orenburg Oblast to inspect the state of the Yq basin by taking water samples. They will also give public lectures on protecting the environment.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova