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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 15, 2002

15 July 2002
Naval Ship Christened In Yeshel Uzen
Naval Ship Christened In Yeshel Uzen Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Russian Navy Chief Commander Vladimir Kuroedov took part on 12 July in the launching ceremony in Yeshel Uzen for the "Tatarstan" missile cruiser, reported the same day. The ship, constructed at Zelenodolskii Sudostroitelnyi Zavod, is the first new one since 1993 and is to become the flagship of the Russian Caspian fleet. In 1996, when construction was halted at the plant because of a lack of financing, three ships were under construction there. In February 2001, during a visit by Kuroedov to Tatarstan, it was decided that the "Tatarstan" would be completed. cited the daily "Vedomosti" as reporting the ship's total cost as $100 million. President Shaimiev said at the ceremony that the plant used to produce 30 ships a year in the past and that it is now reviving itself. As for the financial side of its construction, Shaimiev said that problems always occur but "we found a common language" with the Russian Defense Ministry in order to finish the ship. Kuroedov said that all of the expenses Tatarstan bore during the construction of the ship will be repaid. The ship and its crew of 98 left for Makhachkala. The crew has been working on the ship since May. The weekly "Vostochyi ekspress" reported on 12 July that the cruiser is to take part in military exercises in the Caspian Sea in August and that President Vladimir Putin is due to be on its board during the maneuvers.

Navy Commander Says Tatarstan To Receive New Order From Defense Ministry
At a meeting with President Shaimiev in the Kazan Kremlin on 12 July, Russian Navy Chief Commander Kuroedov said Moscow will begin funding an order next year for equipping the Caspian fleet with military ships. He said Russia has revised its attitude on the current status of the navy and will be increasing funding for new materiel. Kuroedov told journalists on 12 July that with the help of the Zelenodolskii Sudostroitelnyi Zavod, the Russian Defense Ministry is going to re-equip the Caspian fleet and plans that several tens of ships of river-sea and sea class will be constructed in the next 15 years at the plant. Kuroedov said the plant will become the main enterprise charged with re-equipping the Caspian fleet with new ships. The next ship will be finished in 2004.

On his arrival on 11 July, Kuroedov also visited the Kazanskoe Aviatsionnoe Proizvodstvennoe Obyedinenie to inspect construction of Tu-214 aircraft and Tu-160 heavy bombers. Kuroedov said the Russian Navy may purchase Tu-214 jets.

Tatar Interior Ministry Seeks To Deprive Kalmyk Federation Council Senator Of Immunity
Tatar Interior Affairs Minister Asgat Safarov told a press conference on 12 July that his ministry has appealed to Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov to remove immunity from Rustem Iskhakov, a businessman in Tatarstan who is now a Federation Council senator from Kalmykia. A criminal case has been filed. Safarov said that the Interior Affairs Ministry needs to interrogate Iskhakov. The ministry is investigating violations during privatization by Selena -- the firm headed by Iskhakov and under which several companies in Kazan operate, including Kazanskaya Tabachnaya Fabrika, Dom Modelnoi Obuvi, Tsentralnyi Universalnyi Magazin, Univermag Detskii Mir, and Tatfoto.

Suspects Of Attack Against TIU Members Detained
Eight people suspected of taking part in the 29 May attack on the Chally office of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) have been detained in Menzelinsk, cited Chally prosecutor Ildus Nafikov as saying on 12 July. Nafikov said all of the young men detained are suspected of close relations with leaders of the Aq Kayen market, which was the subject of a protest at its opening in May because of its presumed foreign ownership (see RFE/RL's "Tatar-Bashkir Report," 21 May 2002). The TIU's leader in Chally, Rafis Kashapov, participated in a meeting organized by the market traders near the Chally administration that month, which Nafikov said could be a reason for the attack on the TIU office. The prosecutor said that TIU activists are refusing to cooperate with investigators and added that initially witnesses to the attack refused to take part in the identification of the detained, though some came forward and identified two men reported to be involved in the attack. Kashapov and other TIU activists have stated that the attack has a political character while Interior Ministry authorities have said that economic rather than political reasons are likely behind the event.

Kashapov and several more activists were severely beaten during the 29 May attack, as a result of which Kashapov and Gabdulla Shaisultanov were hospitalized in intensive care.

Bashkortostan Buries Air Crash Victims...
Thousands of people took part in a mourning ceremony in Ufa on 13 July during which victims of the 1 July midair collision were buried, RFE/RL s Tatar-Bashkir Service reported the same day. Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov took part. Remains of the second group of victims were delivered on 13 July to Ufa from Germany where the crash took place and buried in Ufa and republic raions. The first 32 victims' bodies were buried in Bashkortostan on 8 July. A total of Bashkir 61 died, including 45 children, in the collision of a Tu-154 passenger liner and a Boeing 757 cargo jet. The bodies of all the victims were identified on 12 July, reported the same day citing an official from the police of the German city of Ueberlingen.

...As Germany Commemorates Them
A mourning ceremony was held on 12 July in the German city of Ueberlingen in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, to commemorate victims of the 1 July air collision, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Representatives from Russia, Belarus, Canada, and Great Britain -- which all lost citizens in the crash -- took part in the event, Bashinform reported on 12 July.

Bashkortostan's delegation was headed by Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov. German Transport Minister Kurt Bodewig, Justice Minister Herta Deubler-Gmelin, Baden-Wuerttemberg Prime Minister Erwin Teufel, Ueberlingen representatives, representatives of the Russian Embassy and missions in Germany were in attendance. Flags on buildings of state offices were at half-mast in all cities of Baden-Wuerttemberg. A wreath-laying ceremony was held in the place of the crash. Prime Minister Baidavletov and his deputy Ramil Mirsaev laid wreaths on the behalf of the Bashkir president, the State Assembly, and the Cabinet of Ministers. Seventy-one schoolchildren placed roses near pictures of each of crash victims. Bashkir Muslim Religious Board Chairman Nurmukhammat Nigmatullin and Father Nikolai of the Pokrovskii church led prayers.

Speaking at the ceremony, Swiss Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger said: "The confrontation with the terrible notion of being part of the cause of the death of 71 people led us into helpless initial reactions, to confused and confusing information, to lapses. Not everyone of us found the right words. We realize this. This could be explained as well by the fact that suitable words cannot be found to correctly express what and how this happened. One who unexpectedly is to recognize that he is guilty of the death of his brothers and sisters could never find the correct words. We cannot and would not like to restrain anger of the victims' relatives. We express to them our compassion. Relatives of the dead have the right not only to compassion but the right to know what was the cause of the tragedy and who is responsible for this. They have right to legal compensation for the damage. Switzerland wants to see cause and responsibility brought to light. It will make every effort to help establish the truth." He stressed the firm decisiveness of his country to provide any possible help in investigation and readiness to cooperate with all competent bodies to help relatives of the victims and compensate them according to the law.

Tatar Speaker Visits Ufa
Tatarstan's State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin arrived in Ufa on 12 July, reported the same day. Mukhametshin met with President Rakhimov and State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation of the two republics with Moscow. The issues of amending republics power-sharing treaties with Moscow and preparations for the congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars were also on the agenda. On 13 July, Mukhametshin took part in a mourning ceremony at the burial of air-crash victims in Ufa. He expressed his condolences to relatives of the victims on the behalf of Tatarstan's people and leadership and laid flowers on the graves, Tatar Radio reported the same day.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova