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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 21, 2003

21 July 2003
Constitutional Court Prohibits Other Courts To Consider Suits Against Regional Constitutions
The Russian Constitutional Court on 18 July issued a ruling prohibiting general, not constitutional courts from hearing suits against constitutions and charters of federation subjects, "Kommersant" reported on 19 July. The parliaments of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan appealed to the Russian Constitutional Court contesting the right of prosecutors to file suits in general courts to declare constitutions and charters of federation entities in contradiction of federal legislation. Currently, prosecutors are contesting in the Tatar Supreme Court 19 provisions of the amended Tatar Constitution as contradicting federal law and demanding that another 18 of its provisions be declared invalid. The Constitutional Court added, however, that the ruling does not question earlier verdicts issued by general courts regarding regional constitutions and charters. At the same time, it said, those verdicts can be contested in the Constitutional Court. Tatar Supreme Court member Roman Gafarov, who was one of applicants to the Constitutional Court, commented that he is completely satisfied with the verdict.

Ikea Begins Constructing Store In Kazan
Ikea has begun construction of a store in Kazan, Tatar media reported on 18 July. Ikea-Russia General Director Lennart Dalgren and Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov laid the symbolic foundation of the facility, which will be the first of 13 regional projects in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg. The 23,500-square-meter store is scheduled to open on 22 March 2004. Dalgren said his company will invest $100 million in the project.

Eurocopter Leaves Euromil
The French-German Eurocopter concern has announced that it is leaving the Euromil company, which was established in 1994 to develop the new Mi-38 helicopter, and selling its stake to the company's other founders, "Izvestiya v Tatarstane" reported on 18 July. Previously, Eurocopter, the Moscow Mil Helicopter Plant, and the Kazan Helicopter Plant possessed equal, 33.3 percent stakes of Euromil. Euromil General Director Vladimir Yablokov commented that Eurocopter's move came in response to the federal law on state regulation of the development of aviation, under which foreign companies cannot possess more than 25 percent of aviation enterprises. Yablokov said Eurocopter will sell its shares, as it would be unable to take part in Euromil management even if it kept a 25 percent stake in the company. Meanwhile, tests of the new helicopter began at the Kazan Helicopter Plant in July. The plant's General Director Aleksandr Lavrentyev said the founders have invested $500 million in the new aircraft.

Sodbiznesbank Heads Detained In Kidnapping Investigation
Tatar police detained Moscow's Sodbiznesbank Chairman Sergei Reusov and the bank's chief accountant, Svetlana Khokhlova, in the course of investigating the kidnapping of KamAZ-Metallurgiya General Director Viktor Faber (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 6 June 2003), "Kommersant" reported on 19 July. On 17 July, investigators seized from Sodbiznesbank documents that may be connected to money paid as ransom for Faber, "Kommersant" reported on 18 July. Faber was kidnapped after he left Chally for a business trip to Kazan on 27 May. According to the daily, the kidnappers initially demanded 15 million rubles ($493,000), and then 30 million rubles for Faber's release. Calling his friends, Faber urged them to transfer the money to accounts of three firms in Sodbiznesbank. However, he was not released even after the money was transferred.

Several days earlier, Tatar investigators arrested between six and 11 persons in the case, according to different reports. Several persons were announced wanted. All are natives of Chally and are members of the local organized crime group allegedly led by Chally businessman Eduard Tagiryanov. Members of the same criminal group are accused of the recent kidnapping of another Chally businessman, Bulat Bayazitov.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Comments On Meeting With Putin
In an interview with the State Television and Radio Company Bashkortostan on 17 July, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov commented on his meeting a day earlier with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Novo-Ogarevo, saying that the two discussed the republic's social and economic development. Rakhimov said Putin praised Bashkortostan's contribution to the strengthening Russian economy. During the talks, Rakhimov criticized the activities of Russian Tax Minister Genadii Bukaev who has accused the republic of evading taxes. Rakhimov said that Putin had ordered prosecutors not to conduct needless checks in the republic. Commenting on Putin's decree annulling some 60 billion rubles ($2 million) worth of fines in the agro-industrial sector, Rakhimov said the move is very important as the sum is unbearable for agricultural manufacturers. Rakhimov also said he was satisfied with his meeting with Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov who praised the activities of the republic's Interior Ministry.

Opposition To Rakhimov Forms Within Bashkir Nationalist Movement
An RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 July about an emerging split within the Bashkir nationalist movement, specifically within the Bashkir Youth Union. A campaign against the union's former ideologist, Airat Dilmokhemmetov, was launched in the republic's state and independent media last week; Bashkir Youth Union leaders appeared on state television and accused Dilmokhemmetov of betraying the Bashkir people. In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 20 July, Dilmokhemmetov said that he heads a group of Bashkirs dissatisfied with the ruling powers, which, he says, have discredited the idea of sovereignty and turned Bashkirs into "slaves."

Anti-AIDS Center Discusses Awareness Campaign
Shamil Gabbasov, the head of the republic's Anti-AIDS Center, told a press conference on 18 July that a "Youth and Health" campaign was launched at the end of June. The campaign aims to inform young people about measures to prevent HIV infection and has pushed for free and anonymous HIV tests to those at risk. Gabbasov said 4,771 HIV carriers are registered in the republic, 579 of them this year, a one-third reduction compared to previous years.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova