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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 25, 2002

25 October 2002
Shaimiev Hints At 'Other Reasons' For Hostage Situation In Moscow Rather Than Islamic Extremism...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told a press conference upon his arrival in Kazan airport from Moscow on 24 October that "what is going on now in Moscow is a [representation of] the long-time festering and bleeding wound that the Russian Federation has been having since the moment of the first attempts of the forcible solution of the Chechen problem," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day.

Shaimiev emphasized that he was "put on alert by the fact, according to the media reports, that there are young women participating in the hostage taking." He said, "It is not enough to try to explain this only by Islamic fanaticism, there are a few other factors in the motivation of these people's actions, which unfortunately have been piling up in the years [of war in Chechnya]." Shaimiev also assumed that "the most important thing now is, unconditionally, not to allow any bloodshed and losses among the hostages."

...As Presidential Advisor Says Terrorists 'Were Driven To The Extremes'
Rafail Khekimov, the Tatar president's advisor on political issues, told the Tatar branch of the Russian State TV-Radio Company in a live program on 24 October that in his opinion, the dramatic hostage situation in Moscow "was not tied to worldwide terrorist networks like Al-Qaeda, but represented an attempt of the Chechen people to draw the Russia's and the world's attention to its disastrous situation." During the interview, Khekimov referred to the ongoing developments in the breakaway republic as war, and not as a counterterrorist campaign, as it is called by the official Russian media, and also used the term "militia" for those who are most frequently referred to as "Chechen militants."

Khekimov described those keeping some 700 hostages in the Russian capital as "people, driven to the extremes, now ready to die for achieving their goals, but if this will result in the loss of a single innocent victim, their methods will not be justified before humanity or Allah. They absolutely won't be able to become shehids [Allah's suicide warriors] in this case."

Tatar Muslim Board Condemns Hostage Taking...
Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board made a public statement on 24 October expressing concern over the seizure of hostages in Moscow and condemning the "extremists satisfying their dirty political ambitions by capturing innocent people," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The statement also said, "True and godfearing Muslims are incapable of such criminal acts, which undoubtedly, throw a shadow on Islam, discrediting the ideas for which the terrorists are allegedly struggling for."

The board stated its assurance that "the condemnation of this crime by Russian and international society will avert such terrorist acts in the future." It is reportedly "praying for the peaceful resolution of this situation and the lives and health of the people held in the bandits' hands."

...As Tatar Public Center Calls It 'Unacceptable'
Moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TIU) Chairman Reshit Yegeferov told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 24 October that his organization "understood and supported the Chechen people, which is on the brink of being totally wiped out," but the organization also considered it "unacceptable" to make innocent people suffer.

Security Measures Tightened In Wake Of Moscow Terrorist Act
In the wake of the 23-24 October developments in Moscow, Tatarstan's Interior Ministry has intensified security measures in the republic, Intertat reported on 24 October. All of public events were under special surveillance, including selective searches of suspicious individuals, including women. Management of local theaters, clubs, and other public places were given special instructions, and police patrols were reinforced at governmental and strategic buildings such as airports and railway stations.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir President Comments On Hostage Crisis...
The hostage taking that occurred in a Moscow theater on 23 October is the result of the powerlessness of Russian law-enforcement bodies, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov told Interfax-Eurasia the next day. "We have so many law-enforcement agencies, but they can't even provide basic order," Rakhimov said. The Bashkir president said the Moscow crisis is the result of the military and political situation in Chechnya, adding that the Chechen issue can only be resolved politically, not militarily. Rakhimov also said, "It's an unprecedented situation when a group of armed terrorists in camouflage can make their way unhindered into the Palace of Culture and take so many people hostage."

...As Does His PR Official...
The head of the public-relations department of the Bashkir presidential administration, Emir Yuldashbaev, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 24 October that hostage taking in Moscow will not help resolve the Chechen issue. Yuldashbaev said the women who are reportedly among the hostage takers and who have possibly lost their children, husbands, or other relatives in the Chechen war cannot be acting reasonably. He said it is impermissible to allow relations between peoples to reach a state of hatred.

...While Bashkir Mufti Condemns Hostage Taking
The head of the Bashkir Muslim Religious Board, Nurmokhemmet Nigmetullin, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 24 October that: "Terrorism does not have any ethnic or religious identity. Islam has always been against such terrorist and criminal actions." On behalf of Muslims in the republic, Nigmetullin condemned the taking of hostages in Moscow and appealed for their freedom.

FSB Stepping Up Security Measures In Republic
The press center of the Bashkir department of the Federal Security Service announced on 24 October that the agency will be taking special measures in conjunction with other state authorities and law-enforcement agencies to prevent terrorist acts in the republic. Additional security measures have been instituted at industrial companies, on public transportation, and in the energy sector.

Unified Russia Looking To Boost Membership, Define Power Relations
Rim Baqyev, a Russian State Duma deputy from Bashkortostan and a member of Unified Russia's central political council, told Bashinform on 24 October that the council declared at a recent meeting that one of the party's tasks is to increase party membership to 1 percent of the electorate countrywide. The Bashkir branch of the party currently has 3,500 members, Baqyev said, and it would be expected to increase that total to 28,000 members. Baqyev said one of the party's priorities is promoting a clear sharing of powers in the economic, social, and tax spheres between Moscow, federation subjects, and organs of local self-government. He said that current legislation does not provide the authorities of different levels of government with proper resources, as a result of which state bodies are unable to fulfill their obligations to their constituencies, Baqyev said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova