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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 22, 2002

22 November 2002
Shaimiev Takes Part In Unified Russia Meeting...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 20 November that unified leadership would be necessary to guide the Unified Russia party through next year's Duma election campaign, Tatar-inform reported on 21 November. Shaimiev made the comment at a party meeting on 20 November in Moscow at which Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov was named chairman of the party's High Council. The party was formerly headed by a triumvirate of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Shaimiev, who nominally remain co-chairmen.

...And In Russian State Council Session...
Shaimiev took part on 21 November in a session of the Russian State Council Presidium that discussed a draft federal law on the general principles of the formation of legislative and executive bodies of the Russian Federation, reported the same day, citing the presidential press service. Shaimiev said at the meeting that several of the draft's provisions restrict the powers of federation subjects and contradict the Russian Constitution.

...And Meets With Russian Defense Minister
The Tatar president also met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to negotiate the possibility of repaying debts and increasing state orders to defense-industry companies in Tatarstan, including the Sergo Plant, the Kazan Aircraft Plant, and the Tupolev aircraft manufacturer. The two also discussed the prospects of training army officers in civilian higher-education institutions in the course of reforming the Russian armed forces.

Kazan Helicopter Plant Among World's Leading Defense Companies
The Kazan Helicopter Plant was included in a list of the world's 100 leading defense companies in 2001, Tatar-inform reported on 21 November. The rating, published by U.S. "Defense News" weekly, includes eight Russian companies, among them Rosoboroneksport, the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer, Uralvagonzavod, and Izhmash.

Interior Ministry Rejects Appeal Over Passport Photographs
The Russian Interior Ministry has rejected an appeal from a group of State Duma deputies requesting that Muslim women be permitted to cover their heads in their passport photographs, Tatar-inform reported on 21 November. State Duma Deputy from Tatarstan Flure Ziatdinova, one of the authors of the appeal, told the agency by telephone the same day that she and eight other deputies from the Communist Party, Yabloko, and Russian Regions factions suggested to Interior Minister Gryzlov that a ministry instruction of 1 July 1998 permitted Muslim women to wear headscarves in their passport photographs in exceptional cases, but, Ziatdinova said, they were told the instruction had been annulled. Ziatdinova said the deputies plan to appeal to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Ziatdinova also claimed that the ministry's refusal to allow Muslim women to wear headscarves in their passport photographs contradicts Article 28 of the Russian Constitution, Article 18 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international agreements.

Muslim Religious Board Creates New Website
The Tatar Muslim Religious Board unveiled its new website ( during a ceremony at the Russian Islamic University in Kazan on 21 November, reported the same day. The site presents in Russian, Tatar, and English information about the Muslim education system, mosques in Tatarstan, and the history of Islam in the Volga region, as well as about new books and media outlets. The site was established with the support of the Nasko Tatarstan and Ekspress-Internet companies, which sponsor a number of humanitarian and religious sites.

Stalin's Son Reburied In Moscow
The body of Josef Stalin's son Vasilii Dzhugashvili has been removed from the Archa Cemetery in Kazan and reburied in Moscow's Troekurovskoe Cemetery near the grave of his wife Maria Dzhugashvili, reported on 21 November, citing the Kazan administration public-relations board. The reburial was carried out upon the request of Dzhugashvili's daughter Tatyana. A monument was placed on his gravesite in Kazan on 20 November to inform visitors that he has been reburied. Dzhugashvili died in Kazan on 19 March 1962 after spending several years there in internal exile.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Supreme Court Judge's Actions Face Strong Opposition In Bashkortostan
Some 500 members of the Bashkir Youth Union and the Bashkortostan's Peoples Assembly organizations held a protest on 21 November to condemn the emergency meeting of Bashkortostan's Judges Conference called by Supreme Court Chairman Marat Vakilov in an effort to restore his membership in the conference, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 20 November 2002). Earlier this year, Vakilov faced a number of corruption charges by the republican monitoring bodies but had his immunity confirmed by Russian Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev who, along with the Russian Supreme Judges Qualification Board, holds an exclusive right to dismiss or authorize the persecution of the regional Supreme Court judges.

The Bashkir Youth Union and the Peoples Assembly picketed the Supreme Court building in Ufa, shouting "Down with Vakilov!" and holding placards accusing him of "swindling."

Georgii Shushpanov, deputy chairman of the Bashkortostan Peoples Assembly, told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent during the meeting that in his opinion, that day's Judges Conference "united only those judges under Marat Vakilov's personal control" and described the current situation with Bashkortostan's legal system as a "credibility gap, caused by the people's distrust to the court chairman who escaped punishment for something that he had done." He emphasized the importance of recent publications covering Vakilov's affair in the Russian dailies "Izvestia" and "Moskovskii Komsomolets" in "unveiling the truth for the people."

Timur Lokmanov, the Bashkir Youth Union leader, said in his interview with RFE/RL the same day that his organization fully supported President Murtaza Rakhimov in his efforts "for cleansing the governmental circles of people like Vakilov."

The protest meeting adopted a resolution demanding that federal Supreme Court officials explain their position on the Bashkir Supreme Court chairman's affair.

No information has yet been made available on whether the Judges Conference actually took place and if it did, what was discussed.

Bashkortostan's Tax Legislation Brought Into Conformity With Federal One
The legislative chamber of Bashkortostan's State Assembly on 21 October passed a law on profit tax recessions for local light industries, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday. The new Russian Tax Code introduced on 1 January had banned such reductions from republican taxes, which was originally introduced by Bashkir legislators in July 2001.

The new draft law on tax breaks reportedly took into account the federal law's requirement of leaving at least 10.5 percent of the estimated tax sum for payment by the industries. It is soon to be discussed by the Representatives Chamber of the Bashkir State Assembly.

Russian Press Chiefs Arrive On Reconnaissance Mission
President Rakhimov met the chief editors of the Russian dailies "Vechernyaya Moskva," "Versti," "Megapolis Kontinent," "Rossiiskie Vesti," and "Ekonomika i Zhizn," the "Zhurnalist" magazine, and the general director of the daily "Trud" on 21 November in Ufa, a local RFE/RL correspondent reported yesterday citing the presidential press service. The press chiefs arrived for an introductory tour across the republic and the president personally informed them about the economic and political situation in Bashkortostan.

Also on 21 November, a guest delegation held a roundtable on religious affairs in the Bashkir Republic involving Bashkir State Secretary Fewket Kidrasov, the chairman of the Ufa-based Central Muslim Religious Board of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, Telget Tajetdin, Orthodox Christian theology expert Father Nikolai, and the principal rabbi of Bashkortostan and the Ufa synagogue, Dan Krichevskii. The religious leaders reportedly underscored the importance of interethnic and interconfessional harmony in the republic.

Justice Ministry Board Repressing Religious Organizations
Representations of 110 religious organizations, most of them belonging to "nontraditional confessions," have been shut down in Bashkortostan since the beginning of 2002, Rosbalt reported yesterday citing the republican board of the Russian Justice Ministry. The board denied registration to certain religious communities due to purported violations of federal legislation on religious activities. Bashkortostan's courts are currently considering 54 more suits against other religious communities that were filed by the Justice Ministry board. A total of 622 religious organizations are currently registered in the republic.

Bashkir Delegation To Visit Saratov
A governmental delegation from Bashkortostan led by President Murtaza Rakhimov is to visit Saratov Oblast on 26-27 November for the opening ceremony of the republic's trade representative in Saratov and the signing of a treaty on friendship and cooperation between the two regions, Rosbalt reported on 21 November. So far, Bashkortostan has been a traditional supplier of diesel fuel, medicines, seeding machines, metal, and timber to Saratov, while the oblast sells ball bearings, power generators, fuel filters, and electric equipment to the republic.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi