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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 23, 2002

23 April 2002
Identity Revealed Of Third Russian Prisoner At Guantanamo Bay
Vladimir Kravchenko, head of the North Caucasus Administration of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, told Interfax on 22 April that the Russian citizen known as Almaz Sharipov who is currently being held at a U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is actually 31-year-old Shamil Khazhiev (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3, 4, 15 April 2002).

In a report in "Izvestiya" on 23 April, Russia's chief investigator in this case, Igor Tkachev, said that Khazhiev never lived in the Tatarstan city of Chally, as he had told investigators earlier. In fact, he was born in the city of Zaravshan in Uzbekistan and later lived in the Bashkortostan city of Uchaly. He left Bashkortostan in 1997 and moved to Miass in the Chelyabinsk Oblast. Moreover, "Izvestiya" reported, Khazhiev used to be a senior lieutenant detective in the police force and before that had studied at the Law Faculty of Ufa State University. He quit his job in 1999 and disappeared.

Tkachev also told "Izvestiya" that, though the American side helped in the investigation, the Russians actually figured out Khazhiev's real identity themselves. Tkachev said that Khazhiev could have been using a false name because of possible involvement in an assault by Chechen rebels on Dagestan in 1999.

The other two prisoners from Russia who are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay are Ravil Gumarov, who was born in Bashkortostan and lived in Chally, and Rasul Kudaev, who is from Kabardino-Balkaria. Investigators confirmed that these are their real names.

Shaimiev, Kozak Discuss Power Sharing
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev and Dmitrii Kozak, deputy head of Russia's presidential staff, discussed power sharing and federal-regional relations via teleconference on Russia's ORT television on 21 April. Shaimiev said he was happy that Russian President Vladimir Putin had devoted a lot of attention to the subject during his 18 April state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow. "Today, when there is no legislative division of powers between the federal center and the regions, treaty-based relations are unavoidable," Shaimiev said. He added that the commission created to develop proposals for power sharing between Moscow and the regions, which Kozak heads, "can now see how complicated it is to divide [powers] among the normal levels of authority. What's most important is that more people are convinced that this process has to be completed, no matter how difficult it is."

Kozak said that when he criticized a number of power-sharing treaties, he "wasn't referring to Tatarstan. Today, discussions about preferences and material inequality do not concern Tatarstan. To a large extent thanks to the constructive and wise position of Mintimer Shaimiev, President Putin, and the federal government, we have settled all the issues with Tatarstan. The problem has been solved in such a way that today Tatarstan is an equal member of the Russian Federation, like the others."

Kozak added that, although 28 of 42 power-sharing treaties between Moscow and the regions were annulled because they "bore a political and declarative character," but did not contain any legal norms, "Russia did not insist on abolishing the remaining 14 treaties," including the one with Tatarstan.

In his closing words, Shaimiev said Tatarstan would "insist on preserving treaty-based relations with Russia. I wouldn't simplify this issue. It's not only about certain benefits. We should base it upon the fact that Russia is a multiethnic country with a complicated history."

Foreign Minister Comments On Tatarstan's Relations Abroad
Russia's Foreign Affairs Minister Igor Ivanov told Tatar-inform on 22 April that, "according to the Russian Constitution, Russia can have only one unified foreign policy, and we have a complete, mutual understanding on this issue with Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev." Ivanov added that he is grateful for the respectful attitude of Tatarstan's leadership toward Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for coordinating the republic's foreign relations with the ministry. "I think [this cooperation has] helped Tatarstan in successfully maintaining its economic and cultural cooperation with many countries."

Commenting on the possibility of creating quotas for the representatives of the Russian Federation's foreign missions, Ivanov stressed that, "in all countries of the world, embassies represent the interests of the entire country and not individual regions, and second, Tatarstan already has its own representative offices abroad...and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs helps them when necessary."

Government Investigates Pension Payments
Airat Shafigullin, head of the Tatarstan administration of the Russian Pension Fund, told a cabinet meeting on 22 April that, as a result of accounting errors at a number of companies in the republic, 688,000 rubles ($22,000) were overpaid to pensioners in 2001, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The same reason -- accounting errors -- was reportedly used as an excuse for failing to pay another 288,000 rubles ($9,300) in pensions.

According to Shafigullin, 959,200 pensioners live in the republic and the average monthly pension is 1,246 rubles ($40).

Tatarstan Communists Mark Lenin's Birthday
About 50 members of the Tatarstan branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation gathered near the Lenin monument on Freedom Square in Kazan on 22 April to mark the Bolshevik leader's birthday, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

The elderly Communists laid flowers at the monument and held a short protest against the "rotten democratic regime and the theft of the people's property." The group also said Lenin's legacy has been wrongfully neglected by modern society.

Also on 22 April, Tatarstan state television aired a number of interviews with schoolchildren in Kazan who didn't know who Lenin was.

Compiled By Iskender Nurmi

Fundraising Campaign Becomes "Obligatory"
The Bashneftekhim oil-processing company, headed by Ural Rakhimov, the son of Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov, and the Ufa Heating Networks Venture have made donations of 500,000 rubles ($16,000) and 300,000 rubles ($9,670), respectively, to the World Bashkir Congress fundraising effort, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 22 April. President Rakhimov launched the campaign by donating his March salary to the fund on 9 April (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10, 18 April 2002). Later, the Health Ministry reportedly asked its employees to donate a day's wages to the fund. According to RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent, top officials at other ministries made the same request, while Health Ministry employees said that this is actually a case of being requested to make an "obligatory donation."

Anniversary Goes Nearly Unmentioned In Republic's Press
Only one newspaper in the republic, "Vechernaya Ufa" daily, mentioned the seventh anniversary of a cooperation accord between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan that was signed on 20 April 1995, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 22 April. The daily noted that both republics have similar strategies in terms of federalism, ethnic relations, religious policies, and the transition to a market economy.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi