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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 29, 2003

29 July 2003
Olympic Committee Official Visits Kazan
Russian Olympic Committee President Leonid Tyagachev visited Kazan on 28 July to inspect the republic's sport infrastructure to study the possibility of training Russian Olympic and other world class athletes there, reported the same day. Tyagachev said following a meeting with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev the same day that training Russian sportsmen for the 2004 Olympic games in Athens was on the top of the agenda. Tyagachev said at least 20 sportsmen from Tatarstan will join the Russian national team to participate in the next Olympic games. Tatarstan is 18th on the list of Russian regions in terms of the number of participants in championships and candidates for Russian national teams. Some 300,000 residents of Tatarstan participate in 36 of 49 Olympic sports. The two also discussed the construction of a mountain skiing facility in the republic's Yugary Oslan Raion. Tyagachev also is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov to negotiate an agreement between Tatarstan and the committee on cooperation and joint activities on preparations for the Olympics. The document is to be signed in two weeks.

Russian Islamic University To Train Islamic Theologians
The Kazan-based Russian Islamic University obtained a license from the Russian Education Ministry to train students in Islamic Theology, reported on 28 July. The university, the first institution in Russia granted such a license, can accept up to 458 students a year.

TIU To Support Fairness And Development of Russia Party
Tatar Public Center (TIU) leaders told a press conference on 28 July that the organization has lost its status as a political group after the federal law on political parties came into force and has thus decided to be an ally of the party of Fairness and Development of Russia, which is headed by Mukhammad Rajabov, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The Fairness and Development of Russia party is the successor to parties established previously by Rajabov -- the Nur party and the Islamic Party. The previous week, TIU leader Reshit Yegeferov was elected as the head of the Fairness and Development of Russia in Tatarstan party (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 July 2003). TIU also issued a statement criticizing the policy of hindering the activities of Tatar-Turkish and Bashkir-Turkish lyceums in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Amended Electoral Code Becomes Law
The new edition of the Bashkir Electoral Code, which was signed by the republic's president into law on 23 July, will come into force on 4 August, 10 days after it has been published in the official republican press, RosBalt reported on 28 July. The code was amended in December to harmonize it with the federal law on elections. The current amendments came in the wake of another federal law on legislative and executive state power bodies of the federation subjects that came into force on 1 July. Under the amended code, legislative bodies are to be formed under a combined party list/majority system. The difference between populations of single-mandate election districts may now be up to 30 percent as against the previous 15 percent. Sixty of 120 seats in the republican State Assembly will now be elected in single-mandate districts, while the others will be from party lists. The next republican parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2008. In December, presidential elections are scheduled in Bashkortostan in parallel with the State Duma elections. Under the Electoral Code, a Russian citizen older than 30 may be elected Bashkir president. According to the Bashkir Constitution, candidates are obliged to speak the republic's state languages, Russian and Bashkir.

Prosecutor's Office Sees No Violations In Power Outage In Tax Ministry
The Bashkir prosecutor's office has rejected an appeal by the Bashkir Tax Ministry to file charges against Bashkirenergo for cutting off electricity to the ministry's Ufa offices, RosBalt reported on 28 July. Ministry lawyers accused the electric company of abuse of power for twice disconnecting the ministry's central office, on 12-21 July and since 25 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 July 2003). The prosecutor's office, however, declared the power outages valid. Ministry lawyers said they will appeal against the decision in court. The ministry also demands that republican services responsible for the outages compensate it for moral and financial damages (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 July 2003). The Bashkir Tax Ministry has faced problems in its operation since the appointment of Aleksandr Veremeenko as minister (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9, 18, and 22 July 2003).

Large Families To Be Distributed Microbuses
Families in Bashkortostan with more than 10 children will be given Gazel microbuses, RosBalt reported on 28 July, citing the Bashkir presidential administration. A corresponding decree was signed by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov. There are 13 such families living now in the republic. To obtain the buses, parents are required to secure favorable conditions for the children and not to be hard drinkers. A similar action was held in Bashkortostan in 2001 when six large families received microbuses.

Six Minors Escape From Sterletamaq Penitentiary
Six prisoners escaped from the penitentiary for minors in Sterletamaq on 26 July, Interfax reported. Three of them were caught, two others managed to escape, while one drowned as he tried to swim across a river.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova