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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 6, 2002

6 February 2002
Deserters' Rampage Detailed In Tatarstan Media
Republican media on 5 February continued to provide insight into the tale of Russian army deserters Almaz Shageyev and Mikhail Sukhorukov, saying they murdered five republican police officers and two civilians in the Bua region. Ulyanovsk law-enforcement officials the same day said the two also took the lives of two businessmen in that oblast's territory while hijacking their cars. Two Tatar militiamen are in serious condition after confronting the deserters, who were armed with two Kalashnikov automatic rifles stolen from their military base and pistols taken from murdered police.

First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov said three militiamen killed in the final stages of the chase "were unprepared for facing a well-trained enemy" and were trapped by the two men in an ambush in Lashi, Bua region. Shageyev pretended to surrender before Sukhorukov shot the men in the back, he said. Investigators said it is still unclear whether Shageyev was shot by militia or killed himself, but Sukhorukov committed suicide after being surrounded in the Cherki-Grishino village in the Bua region.

Military Speculates On Motives In Tragedy...
A group of senior officers from the Russian General Staff and the chief commander of airborne troops, Georgii Shpak, have reportedly arrived in Ulyanovsk to investigate the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Ulyanovsk chief military commander Vladimir Vetrenok said on 5 February that both deserters were considered to be excellent servicemen: Shageyev was deputy commander of a platoon comprising 30 privates, while Sukhorukov led a detachment of 10 privates. Vetrenok suggested the rampage began with the criminal intention of selling the machineguns stolen from their base, while the chief of the Russian Airborne Corps, Nikolai Bragin, said on 5 February that other airborne servicemen believe the "boys decided to play Rambo."

...As Bua Buries Five Militiamen...
Tatar militiamen Captain Rasheed Sharafutdinov and Sergeant Ilnur Khairullin, slain by the deserters on 4 February, were buried in the city of Bua on 5 February. Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov and senior officials from the Interior Ministry participated in the funeral, which was also attended by many residents of Bua. Captain Gamil Zagrutdinov, Sergeant Shamil Abdrakhmanov, and Lieutenant Azat Shaidullin -- all killed in the final confrontation with the criminals on the night of 4-5 February -- are to be buried on 6 February.

...And President Offers Condolences To Victims' Families
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 5 February expressed his condolences to the relatives and friends of militiamen and civilians killed in the 4-5 February rampage by Russian Army deserters. He ordered the government and administration of Bua region to "take necessary actions for organizing funerals and providing material aid to the families of the dead."

Tatar Journalist Says Chechen War Syndrome Is To Blame For Military Violence
Vasil Garifullin, the dean of the Journalism Faculty at Kazan State University, told Tatarstan state radio that "ignorance of truth with respect to the Chechen war and the psychological problems it causes among veterans are the reason we had such a tragedy." He quoted media reports saying both deserters served in Chechnya and added that despite their obvious mental illness, Shageyev and Sukhorukov were appointed to head small squads in the elite Airborne Corps and were praised by commanders.

Republican Government Program To Bolster Medical Care
Health Minister Kamil Ziatdinov told a press conference on 5 February that the program of state guarantees of free medical care adopted by the cabinet on 22 January introduced direct subsidies to socially vulnerable layers of society because regional and city administrations have failed to ensure the timely transfer of such subsidies. Some 1.3 million people, representing one-third of Tatarstan's population, currently rely on state-sponsored free or discounted medicine. The republic has allocated 8.6 billion rubles ($287 million) for health care in this year's budget.

President Says Government Attentive To Physical Education
President Shaimiev told Interfax on 5 February that the promotion of physical health among young Tatarstan citizens has always been one of the major tasks for the republic's government. He said his government has "seriously considered organizing sports events for the masses." Shaimiev said that during the postwar years in the Soviet Union, the general level of health among young people was higher than today, although people at that time faced considerable malnutrition.

Mukhametshin Initiative Gains Support From Moscow Duma
Moscow City Duma Speaker Vladimir Platonov, in a message to the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Sergei Mironov, suggested that an inter-regional board of legislators be created under the Council's patronage, allowing for increased consultation, "Vremya i dengi" daily reported on 5 February. Tatarstan State Council Speaker Farit Mukhametshin addressed a similar message to Mironov in mid-January, proposing the establishment of a body to promote the interests of regions.

Major Faiths In Tatarstan Congratulate Iskhakov On Re-Election
The head of the Russian Orthodox church in Tatarstan, Archbishop Anastasii; the executive director of the Kazan Jewish community, David Tokar; and the deputy head of Lutheran Church in Kazan, Victor Dits met with the chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Gusman Khazrat Iskhakov, on 5 February. The men congratulated Iskhakov on his recent re-election and wished him further re-election to his post, republican media reported.

Museum Devoted To Tatar Scientist Opens In Kazan
A museum devoted to Tatar educator, writer, and philosopher Kayum Nasiri (1825-1902) was opened on 5 February in Kazan. The exhibition presents his handwritings and personal items, reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

President Replaces Finance Minister
President Murtaza Rakhimov signed a decree on 5 February to replace Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Foat Khantimerov with the head of the republican branch of the Russian Pension Fund, Airat Gaskarov. Khantimerov requested the move, Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov told reporters, adding that the outgoing minister recommended that Gaskarov be named his successor.

Visiting Pension Fund chief Mikhail Zurabov welcomed the shuffle and remarked that "both officials deserve the trust" of the federal Pension Fund.

Russian Pension Fund Chief Praises Bashkortostan
Pension Fund head Zurabov arrived in Ufa on 5 February to comment on the current implementation of pension reform and assess the activities of his Fund's branch in Bashkortostan, RFE/RL reported. Zurabov met President Rakhimov, reportedly telling him that Bashkortostan is among the most progressive regions in pensions payment and thanking him for republican support for the Pension Fund.

Bashkortostan Launches Cooperation With TURKSOY
A government delegation from Bashkortostan led by Deputy Prime Minister and Culture and Ethnic Policies Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov visited Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan on 5 February to join the 17th session of the TURKSOY cultural organization, Bashinform reported. TURKSOY unites Turkic countries. The meeting's participants agreed to include the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Bashkir national hero Salavat Yulaev and the 1,000th anniversary of the Bashkir epic "Ural-batir" in the organization's agenda to 2007.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi