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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 7, 2003

7 November 2003
Small Protest Crowds In Kazan For Constitution Day Events
The moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TIU), led by Reshit Yegeferov, managed to gather only a dozen of its activists at a protest dedicated to Tatarstan's Constitution Day at the Irek Square on 6 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The protesters held placards urging a return of the first republican constitution adopted in 1992, which declared Tatarstan a subject of international law and introduced its own citizenship.

Meanwhile, the local branch of the Unified Russia party gathered in front of the TIU gathering to praise the revised Tatar Constitution as a guarantor of interethnic accord in the republic. This event was attended by the leaders of various ethnic communities working in Kazan and Tatarstan.

Enver Mokemmetzakirov, secretary of the local Unified Russia's Political Council, told the reporters after the meeting that "as our constitution occupies a deserved place in the life of our residents, people are mostly concerned with their everyday problems, such as housing reform."

KamAZ Planning To Cut 10,000 Workers...
Only one of every 10 KamAZ employees currently quitting their job does so because of the company's staff-reduction program, Ilshat Khaziev, deputy general director for human resources, told the daily "Vechernie Chelni" in an interview published on 5 November. Some 23,000 workers are said to have left KamAZ in the last two years, while only 1,200 of them were officially laid off.

According to the company's business plan, 3,000 people out of some 50,000 are still to leave KamAZ by the end of this year. Management maintains that some 30,000-40,000 workers are to remain at the company, while about 7,000 workers who possess "temporary" status will be released in the first two months of 2004.

...And Discover A New Market Niche
The KamAZ automotive concern began the experimental assembly of 25 KamAZ-4308 trucks with a cargo capacity of 6 tons, Tatar-inform reported on 6 November. The new vehicle is the concern's first step into the medium-sized truck portion of the Russia's automotive market and, in the first stage, will be equipped with Brazilian-made "Mumius" engines. Previously, KamAZ mainly specialized in heavy trucks with a load capacity of eight and 12 tons.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Explosion Kills Two In Ufa...
Two people were killed and three were injured when a car bomb exploded in Ufa on the night of 5 November, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent and Russian and Bashkir news agencies reported on 6 November. The Bashkir Interior Ministry said that the bomb was detonated by remote control when a jeep belonging to the Shchit company was passing by. Shchit guards the property and management of Bashkirenergo, the chairman of which is President Murtaza Rakhimov's son, Ural. Two Shchit guards, aged 29 and 33, were killed and two more were hospitalized in serious condition. A driver of another car was slightly injured by the explosion.

Bashkir Interior Ministry press service head Ruslan Sherefetdinov said the bomb must have contained up to 700 grams of TNT and was filled with bolts, screws, and pieces of metal pipe. Sherefetdinov said the car was sold by an unemployed Ufa resident to an unidentified individual two months ago. Sherefetdinov said that he believes the aim of the bombing is to destabilize the political situation in the republic on the eve of the 7 December presidential and State Duma elections.

He also said the bombing recalls the 27 September event when police defused a radio-controlled bomb containing 1,200 grams of TNT that was located in a car in downtown Ufa not far from the office of Ural Rakhimov.

...Which Presidential Candidate Says Authorities May Use To Restrict Opposition Campaigning
Bashkir presidential candidate Relif Safin said on 6 November that the car-bomb explosion could destabilize the situation in Bashkortostan on the eve of the elections, RosBalt reported the same day, citing Safin's spokeswoman Tatyana Ivanova. Safin believes that the local authorities "may use the antiterrorist campaign to pursue their political goals." He predicted that the authorities may tighten traffic inspections during the election campaign and "create obstacles for the activities of independent observers under the pretence of looking for terrorists."

Speaking on a live Ekho Moskvy program on 6 November, Safin said no equal opportunities exist in the election race in Bashkortostan. "All the candidates can confirm that no equality exists in the elections. There is evidence by people and hundreds of signatures," Safin said. He said that "Moscow should interfere in the situation," adding that if a commission came to the region, it would be able to determine that "lawlessness is growing in the center of Russia."

Suspicious Incident At Independent Radio Station
A group of unidentified persons headed by an Interior Ministry major on 5 November tried to dismantle an antenna and broadcasting equipment at Ufa's Bulgar radio station, the only independent radio station in Bashkortostan, Ekho Moskvy and reported the same day. Station Deputy Director Sergei Anatskii was reported as saying that the group was found on the roof of the building where broadcasters are located and disappeared without comment after reporters appeared. The radio station had launched several days before its broadcasting from that location with powerful, renovated equipment that enables it to reach Ufa and neighboring raions.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova