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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 19, 2000

19 September 2000
Ten Perish In Deadly Accident On Kama River
The bus accident at the ferry loading at Sayeskan Tau on 17 September claimed the lives of 10 people, all women, Tatarstan's Ministry Of Emergencies reported. Earlier, it was reported that 13 people had died in the accident (see RFE/RL's "Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 September 2000), but it was determined that 12 and not 15 people were on the bus. The driver and one of the passengers survived. The youngest of the victims was aged 17 and the oldest 62.

The next day, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov signed a government decree granting 15,000 rubles (about $540) of material compensation to each family of those killed in the tragedy. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev expressed his condolences to the relatives of the 10 women who perished and ordered the Interior Minister to investigate the accident.

The same day, Tatarstan's chief traffic militia inspector, Rifkat Minnikhanov, held a press conference to say that he personally checked the bus's brakes and said that they were in good working order. He added, however, that "this doesn't mean that the brakes couldn't have failed during the accident."

Construction work at the bridge over the Kama River at Sayeskan Tau has been slowly progressing for several years. According to Tatarstan's media, the production of metal parts for the bridge at the Yashel Uzen plant is regularly frozen due to a lack of funds.

Second TPC Branch In Chally Acknowledged
The chairman of the moderate nationalist group the Tatar Public Center (TPC), Rashit Yagafarov, told Tatarinform agency in Kazan on 18 September that he "doesn't regard the disaccord between the [competing] TPC members in Chally as something tragic." Yagafarov noted that the creation of the second TPC on 14 September violated the TPC charter, "but the reality is that now we have two Tatar Public Centers in Chally." In his words, "many TPC members were discontented with the way the first TPC chairman in Chally, Rafis Kashapov, wanted to defend his status." RFE/RL's bureau in Kazan recently reported that Kashapov had issued warnings saying that if a second TPC is created in Chally, 5 activists of the original TPC will self-immolate themselves in the city's main square.

Newly elected head of the second TPC, Damir Galiyev, who is also the chairman of the independent Kalkan trade union, told Tatarinform that his organization's policy "is aimed at preserving peace and stability in Tatarstan." He rebutted allegations that he was being supported by the city mayor by saying, "we are a constructive opposition to the existing authorities."

According to the Efir TV company on 17 September, Galiyev was congratulated on his election by Chally Mayor Rashit Khamadeev.

By Iskender Nurmi