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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 15, 2003

15 July 2003
Russian Supreme Court Rules That Tatar Vote Should Be Reconsidered
The Russian Supreme Court on 11 July overruled the 23 April resolution of the Tatar Supreme Court, which said that the acknowledgement of violations in December 1999 elections by the republic's election commission did not mean the vote should be reconsidered, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 15 July, citing the press service of the Tatar parliament. The case in the Supreme Court was filed by the opposition Equality and Legality movement from Tatarstan. The Russian court's verdict obliges the Tatar Supreme Court to revise its December 1999 and March, April 2000 rulings, which authorized the election of 49 members of the Tatar State Council as parliamentary deputies. The deputies had already served as republican government officials and, under federal laws, elected deputies are prohibited from combining their duties with work in other branches of government. Meeting with reporters on 12 July, Tatar parliamentary speaker Farid Mukhametshin said that it was possible that the State Council would dispute the Russian Supreme Court's verdict, "because the matter had already been settled by the Russian Constitutional Court." He was referring to a January 2002 verdict of the court, which ruled that although Tatar election laws are inconsistent with federal legislation, the results of the December 1999 elections were not subject to change.

Muslim Women Asked For Official Documents Proving Religious Beliefs
Although the Russian Interior Ministry is allowing Muslim women to have their passport photographs taken while wearing traditional headscarves, passport applicants are being asked to present documents proving that they are Muslims, the "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily wrote on 15 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 16 May, 3 June 2003). Mansur Khezret, the head of the Kazan Muslim community, confirmed that Muslim women applying for a Russian passport have been given documents which confirm that the bearer is a Muslim. The document carries the stamp of the local Muslim community as well as the signature of a local Muslim cleric, the daily reported.

New Alleged Kidnapping Shakes Chally
Another top manager of the KamAZ automotive concern has gone missing, soon after the disappearance of Viktor Faber, the deputy general director of the company and head of the KamAZ-Metallurgiya enterprise, Efir TV reported on 14 July. The Chally city Prosecutor's Office confirmed this information, although it declined to name the missing manager. Faber and Natalya Starodubtseva, head of the KamAZ-Metallurgiya's economy department, have not been seen since the end of May. Chally police have reportedly investigated the possibility of kidnapping, having initiated a federation-wide search.

Tatar Industries Among Best Russian Exporters
Three of the 18 industrial enterprises awarded the "Best Russian Exporter" title by the federal Ministry of Trade and Economic Development on 11 July are from Tatarstan, Intertat reported on 14 July. The list includes the Kazan electric appliances plant Elektropribor, the KamAZ automotive concern, and the Nizhnekamskshina tire factory in Tuben Kama.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Appoints New Cabinet
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov has formally appointed his cabinet of ministers, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 14 July. The new ministers are: Finance Minister Ayrat Geskerov, Industry Minister Sergei Yefremov, Culture and Ethnic Policies Minister Khalyaf Ishmoratov, and Shamil Vakhitov is the new head of the state committee on land resources. According to Article 87 of the Bashkir Constitution, adopted in late 2002, the president has the power to appoint and head the cabinet.

New Ministry Created To Oversee Natural Resources
President Rakhimov on 11 July dismissed Bashkir Timber Industry Minister Rif Kazakkulov and Rasikh Khamitov, the head of a republican geological board, Rosbalt reported the same day. The president also ordered the merger of the two aforementioned organizations with the State Ecology Committee to form a new Natural Resources Ministry, which will be headed by the former State Ecology Committee chairman Alfred Faukhutdinov.

Fires Claim 170 Lives In Bashkortostan This Year
Fires in Bashkortostan this year have already inflicted 178 million rubles ($5.85 million) of material damages, Rosbalt reported on 14 July citing the republican Emergencies Ministry. In more than 2,000 fires across the republic this year, 173 people have died.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi