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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 7, 2003

7 August 2003
Police Search Apartment Of Party Of Life Leader
Tatar Interior Ministry investigators on 6 August searched the apartments of Russian Party of Life Kazan branch leader Ferit Khuzikhanov and of his children and his auto dealership RAIF-tsentr, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 August. The aim of the search was to "find documents related to a criminal case against citizen Metelev filed in 1998," RosBalt cited an unnamed source in Kazan law enforcement bodies as saying on 6 August. During the search, which was sanctioned by Tatarstan's Deputy Prosecutor Ferit Zahidullin, items including Party of Life documents were seized. The party's press service called the search "one more violation of law committed toward the regional branch of the Russian Party of Life."

In July, a party commission visited Tatarstan and has claimed that it registered numerous violations against party followers committed by local law enforcement (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 July 2003). Party Deputy Chairman Refqet Altynbaev said, "Tatarstan's authorities are very well aware of legal violations against the Russian Party of Life." He added that he is going "to fight arbitrary rule by the republican leadership, which believes in its perfect impunity."

Council Of Russian Muftis Praises Russia Possibly Joining OIC
"We fully support the call by President Vladimir Putin for Russia's joining the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC]," Council of Russian Muftis Chairman Rawil Gainetdin said, Tatarinform reported on 6 August. Ganetdin's comments came in response to Putin's statement on 5 August in Malaysia about Russia possibly joining the OIC. The news agency cited the Council of Russian Muftis press service as commenting that more than 20 million Russian Muslims have been expressing for a long time their desire to join one of the world's most authoritative Muslim organizations. "Russia's OIC entry would let us not only broaden existing spiritual ties but significantly increase economic and political cooperation between the OIC countries," Gainetdin said.

New Suspects In Kidnapping Case Detained
Police have detained Moscow resident Aleksei Masalov and owner of the Photo World shop network Oleg Belov on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping of KamAZ top manager Viktor Faber and Chally businessman Bulat Bayazitov (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 6 June, 18 and 21 July 2003), reported on 6 August. Seven Chally residents and two Moscow Sodbiznesbank senior officials were already arrested in the investigation.

TIU Leader Seeks Case Against Him To Be Filed In Tatar
The Chally city court rejected on 6 August an appeal by Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally leader Rafis Kashapov, in which he demanded that materials of the criminal case against him be filed in Tatar as well as Russian, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported. The court ruled that it is not necessary to translate documents in full, adding that Kashapov will be provided with an interpreter during the trial. Kashapov plans to appeal the decision in the Tatar Supreme Court. Kashapov is accused of inciting interethnic, racial, and religious hatred (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 March, 13 and 23 May, and 7 July 2003).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tax Ministry Asked To Sign New Rental Agreements
The Bashkir Property Relations Ministry has appealed this week to the Bashkir Arbitration Court to demand that the Bashkir Tax Ministry sign rental agreements on premises occupied by the ministry's offices, reported on 6 August. The Property Relations Ministry also initiated the re-registration of ownership certificates on all of the Tax Ministry's premises. The Tax Ministry, which considers this move to be a violation of federal law, has appealed to the Russian Justice Ministry, the report said.

TIU Will Not Support Rakhimov's Re-election
Airat Gyinietullin, the leader of Bashkortostan's most radical Tatar organization, the Tatar Public Center (TIU), told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 6 August that TIU will not support President Murtaza Rakhimov if he seeks a third term in office. Gyinietullin said Rakhimov had done nothing to solve the problems of the Tatar people during his two terms. Instead, new problems have arisen and more interethnic tension has emerged during this time, he said. He added that the ethnic identity of the Bashkir president is not an important factor for Tatar organizations.

BTK Leader Says Tatarstan Should Not Be Indifferent To Tatars In Bashkortostan
Ethnologist Damir Iskhaqov, the deputy chairman of the World Tatar Congress's (BTK) Executive Committee, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 6 August that Tatarstan should not let the Bashkir authorities "privatize" Tatars living in that republic. Iskhaqov was commenting on recent reports aired in Bashkortostan that Tatarstan-based Tatar organizations had interfered in Bashkortostan's affairs. Specifically, a Bashkir presidential administration official Emir Yuldashbaev had said that "Bashkortostan is not an affiliate of Tatarstan," so the activities of Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress need not be approved by the Tatarstan-based BTK. Iskhaqov replied that Bashkortostan's Tatar community is an integral part of the Tatar people and Tatarstan should not be indifferent to the problems of Tatars in Bashkortostan. He cited reports about the decreasing number of Tatar schools in Bashkortostan as an example of federal laws being violated in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova