20 September 2005
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTANRussian Patriots Open Party Branch In Kazan
The Russian Patriots party held an inaugural conference in Kazan on 10 September, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The newly established federal party plans to become "at least the second biggest political force" in the republic by the 2007 Duma elections, party Deputy Chairman Oleg Borisoglebskii told the conference. The Russian Patriots reportedly consider Unified Russia their main rival and hope to overtake it.
The party was formed in 2004 by former Communist Party activist Gennadii Semigin and joined by other former Communist activists including Gennadii Seleznev from the Bolshevik Communist wing, following their conflict with Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov.
Moscow To Help Rebuild Namesake Street In Kazan
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told reporters on 10 September that his city will contribute to rebuilding Kazan's Moskovskaya Street, Tatar-inform reported on 12 September. Luzhkov reportedly made this decision after visiting Kazan for its millennium anniversary celebrations and President Mintimer Shaimiev's personal requested his assistance. Formerly known as Kirov Street, Moskovskaya Street has many historical buildings in critical condition.
Kazan Millennium Envied By Other Regions
Among the governors invited to Kazan's millennium celebrations, some were irritated by the luxuriousness of the festivities and the amount of funds invested in improving the city's infrastructure, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 13 September. In a recent interview with uralpolit.ru, Kurgan Oblast Governor Oleg Bogomolov claimed that, according to his information, $3 billion was spent preparing for the anniversary, which is eight times his region's annual budget. Bogomolov said that this showed Moscow's unequal distribution of revenues between the regions.
Officials of the committee organizing the millennium celebrations declined to tell RFE/RL in interviews the same day how much was spent on celebrating the anniversary.
Tatneft To Maintain Operations In Iran
The Tatneft oil company issued a public statement on 13 September denying recent media reports that its joint venture with Iran's Oppressed and Disabled Foundation (Bonyad-i Mostazafan va Janbazan) is being closed due to the current political developments in Iran, Russian and Tatar media reported.
The joint venture runs a number of projects to prospect for oil in Iran and to service oil-extraction facilities. According to the company statement, Tatneft Iran Oil Company is currently prospecting the high-density Zagdeh oil deposit in southern Iran.
Tatar Antidrug Program Criticized For Low Efficiency
According to Tatar-inform, after a 14 September interdepartmental commission on drug control, the problem of drug addiction remains critical in the republic. The Tatar government has been annually spending some $2.3 million on its antidrug program, which was launched in 2002. The commission's chairwoman, Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Zile Welieva, said during the meeting that the number of drug addicts is increasing in rural areas and that a new antidrug concept was needed. She recommended that republican antidrug agencies joined forces with the federal antidrug program to elaborate on concrete measures to decrease trafficking.
Gref Suggests Promoting KamAZ Shares At LSE
Trade and Economic Development Minister German Gref announced on 13 September that he will advise the federal government to float shares of the state-owned KamAZ automotive concern on the London Stock Exchange, "Kommersant" wrote the next day. According to previous reports, the federal government is planning to privatize its 34 percent shares package in KamAZ in 2006.
UNIKS Signs Contract With NBA Star
One of the leaders of Russia's national basketball league, UNIKS, has announced that it has signed a contract with the NBA's Travis Best, who previously played for the New Jersey Nets, Tatar media reported on 14 September. The Kazan-based basketball team, sponsored by Tatarstan's National Bank, is considered one of the richest clubs in Russia and has already drafted a number of Lithuania's and Russia's national basketball teams.
Memorial Day To Unite Tatar Public Groups
Reshit Yegeferov, chairman of the moderate nationalist Tatar National Council, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 15 September that the Memorial Day event dedicated to the 453rd anniversary of the conquest of Kazan by Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible on 15 October will involve a rally of numerous Tatar public organizations.
Tatar Publishers Consider New Approaches
Moderris Weliev, head of the Megarif publishing house, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 15 September that in his opinion it's not easy to market Tatar-language literature, despite its high artistic value and low price. To facilitate a higher turnover of its books, Megarif is organizing its own shops and promoting Tatar literature in special radio shows.
Federal Agency Protests Privatization Of Tatarstan Post
The Federal Press and Mass Communications Agency has filed a protest against the privatization of the state-owned Tatarstan pochtasi (Tatarstan Post), "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 September. Moscow's Arbitrage Court will consider the claim against Tatarstan's government, which insists on its right to privatize the post office, thus setting a precedent for the country. In an interview published by the business daily on 6 September Federal Press and Mass Communications Agency head Andrei Bezkorovainyi said that the case represented a threat to Russia's integrated postal system and contradicted the concept of the Russian postal system's restructuring.
Tatarstan's Ombudsman Law A Model For Russia
Tatarstan's law on human rights representatives is being used as a model for the draft federal law on the activities of ombudsmen Russia's federal entities, intertat.ru reported on 17 September. This was reported at a conference on the development of Russian entity's human rights representatives, or ombudsmen, that ended in Sochi on 16 September. A meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Russian ombudsman and human rights representatives was held within the framework of the conference to discuss the draft law. The draft will be given to Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and will then be introduced to the Russian State Duma.
Organized Crime Group On Trial...
A preliminary hearing on a criminal case against a Tuben Kama organized crime group called "Tatars" has been held in Tatarstan's Supreme Court, Tatar-inform reported on 16 September. Twenty-nine group members accused of 13 murders, five attempted murders, racketeering, and other crimes are on trial. Several more people are on a wanted list. Roughly 400 people are attending the hearings.
...As Well As Contractor Of Krasnyi Vostok General Director
A criminal case against Kazan businessman Boris Bulatov, who is accused of contracting the murder of Krasnyi Vostok brewery General Director Eibet Eibetov in February 1996, has been passed to Tatarstan's Supreme Court, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 September. Bulatov was extradited to Russia from Spain on 16 June. In March, Sergei Pavlov, Bulatov's former bodyguard, was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment for killing Eibetov. According to investigators, Bulatov, who headed the Kazan Sandra company, contracted Eibetov's murder after a conflict arose between the two businessmen over distribution of profits from joint cola production at Krasnyi Vostok.
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTANUfa Promotes New Power-Sharing Treaty
Bashkortostan's State Assembly on 9 September sent an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin calling for the renewal of treaty-based relations between Russia and Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported the same day.
In the document, the parliament noted that further improvement in treaty-based relations between Russia and its entities is an important strategic development for Russia as a federative state.
The deputies asked Putin to initiate a process of renewing the bilateral power-sharing treaty between the two sides and to set up a commission to develop a draft.
The first power-sharing treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan signed in August 1994 fixed Bashkortostan's status as a state within Russia and proclaimed that land and natural resources are the "exclusive property of the multiethnic people" of Bashkortostan. The signing of new power-sharing treaties was halted after the reform on the strengthening of vertical power was launched by Putin after the Beslan hostage taking incident last year.
Parliament Speaker Reminds All That Republics Are States
Commenting on the Bashkir State Assembly's initiative, parliament speaker Konstantin Tolkachev referred to Article 11 of the Russian Constitution permitting the signing of power-sharing treaties between federal authorities and territorial entities, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 September.
Tolkachev said republics are states, adding that Russia isn't currently a true federation. "In terms of the distribution of powers, we lag behind classic federative states. The status of a federation subject isn't determined by the Russian Constitution," Tolkachev said. Tolkachev said he thinks it is necessary "to define the contemporary shape of optimum relations" between the federal authorities and Bashkortostan, and a new power-sharing treaty should play a decisive role in doing this. Tolkachev said unitary power is a dead end for the country. It is "republics that play a special consolidating role within the federation," the speaker said, adding that "the constitution of the Russian Federation defines republics as states.
Communists Removed From Parliamentary By-Elections
The leader of Bashkortostan's branch of the Communist Party (KPRF), Rinat Galiev, said the KPRF has been deprived of putting forth its candidates for by-elections to the Bashkir State Assembly slated for 30 October, "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" reported on 10 September.
Galiev commented on the verdict of the Bashkir Supreme Court that ruled on 8 September on a ban by the Ufa Kirov Raion Court of a KPRF party conference in Bashkortostan. The deadline for presenting documents to district election commissions expired on 4 September. The Kirov Raion Court on 18 August agreed to an appeal by KPRF member Tatyana Sklyarova -- who claimed that she wasn't informed about the conference -- and prohibited the 20 August conference from being held. Galiev said that Sklyarova was defending the interests of Bashkir authorities who "try to prevent their major opponents from taking part in the elections." Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin had commented on the ruling that banned the conference by saying that it is "harsh and illegal interference by the judicial authorities into the activities of political parties."
President Rakhimov's Son Maintains Control Over Bashneft
The Ural District Federal Arbitration Court on 12 September confirmed a verdict by the Bashkir Arbitration Court that ended a lawsuit by the Bashkir Property Ministry against Bashkirskii Kapital on the return to state ownership of a 64 percent stake in Bashneft, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 13 September.
Bashkortostan's Prosecutor's Office thus failed to prove that the decision would be harmful to state interests (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 July 2005). Republican First Deputy Prosecutor Salawat Kerimov told the daily that an appeal against the verdict is the responsibility of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office. The Prosecutor's Office is contesting the 8 June agreement between the Bashkir government and Bashkirskii Kapital to settle the dispute out of court. Under that pact, Bashkirskii Kapital, which is controlled by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov's son Ural, maintained control over the republic's major fuel and energy companies by agreeing to repay 13 billion rubles ($458 million) to the state budget in back taxes (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9, 10, 13, and 21 June 2005).
President Against Oil Exporting
In an interview on the "Vesti nedeli" program on Rossiya television on 11 September, Bashkir President Rakhimov spoke in favor of processing oil in Russia rather than importing it.
Rakhimov said "I consider it a crime to export so much oil" and he said that gasoline, diesel fuel, and other products made from oil refining should be exported instead. Rakhimov also said quality oil banks will be necessary in the future, adding that today, however, a majority of Russia's oil refineries aren't ready to process high-sulfur oil. But Bashkortostan's refineries can process any type of oil, Rakhimov said.
Constitutional Court Refuses To Hear Appeal Provoked By Meeting Ban
The Bashkir Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal by Bashkortostan resident Mikhail Kodyakov alleging a violation of his constitutional rights by a Ufa City Council decree in 1997 under which permission from the head of a local administration is necessary to allow public gatherings or demonstrations in the city, "Moskovskii komsomolets v Ufe" reported on 13 September. Kodyakov's appeal came in response to the Ufa Kirov Raion administration's refusal last year to permit a gathering on the decree in question. The Constitutional Court ruled that the decree was annulled by a June 2004 federal law that established new guidelines for public activities.
Tatar Civic Group Files Defamation Suit Against Daily
Ufa's Tatar National Cultural Autonomy head Mejit Khujin told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 14 September that his group has filed a defamation suit against the newspaper "Moskovskii komsomolets v Ufe" in Ufa's Oktyabr Raion court. In the wake of the Kazan millennium celebrations in late August, the daily published an article claiming that Bashkortostan's Tatar representatives who attended celebrations were "dishonest" and "unknown." Khujin said the group is demanding 1 million rubles ($35,300) in compensation.
Defense Industry Trade Union Joins National Protest
Bashkortostan's Defense Industry Trade Union on 15 September expressed its concern about the complex socioeconomic state of defense industries, Bashinform and "Moskovskii komsomolets v Ufe" reported on 15 and 16 September, respectively. The union members held their meeting as a part of the Russia-wide demonstration of defense-industry workers on 8-22 September but refused to hold pickets or meetings like those in other regions. The meeting passed a resolution calling for an increase of state orders for defense-industry companies, prepayment for it at least by half, freeing companies of strategic importance from payment of property tax, and decent salaries. Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Puchnin told the meeting that defense-industry companies are subordinate to federal authorities and "all issues are the responsibility of the federal agency."
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM IDEL-URAL REGIONGubernatorial Administration Officials Arrested On Accusation Of Fraud
The deputy head of the Chelyabinsk Oblast gubernatorial administration, Tatyana Sergeeva, was arrested on 14 September, UralPolit.ru reported the same day. The order was issued by the Chelyabinsk Central Raion court on an order by the Chelyabinsk Oblast Prosecutor's Office, which is investigating a case on the theft of money from the oblast budget during the construction of new homes for members of the oblast government. The head of the gubernatorial administration's protocol department, Aleksei Sergeev, who is Sergeeva's husband, has already been arrested in the case. Charges of fraud have been made against Sergeev.
Hepatitis Outbreak In Nizhnii
Over 734 people infected with hepatitis A, including 144 children, have been registered in the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast since the outbreak of the disease in Nizhnii Novgorod on 5 September, Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 19 September. Russia's chief sanitary doctor, Gennadii Onishchenko, who came to Nizhnii Novgorod on 16 September, said the water system is the most likely source of the infection. Authorities plan to vaccinate 13,000 schoolchildren in Nizhnii Novgorod to fight the spread of the disease.
Court Rules To Unfreeze Bank Accounts Of Human Rights Group In Nizhnii
The Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Arbitration Court has issued a ruling under which accounts of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (ORChD) should be unfrozen, Regnum reported on 14 September, citing the ORChD. The court thus suspended a 15 August decision by the Federal Tax Inspection Service (IFNS) in Nizhnii Novgorod Raion to bring ORChD to its tax responsibility. On 24 August, ORChD contested the IFNS decision in the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Arbitration Court. The Arbitration Court ruling will be valid until the appeal by ORChD is considered and the verdict comes into force.
IFNS considers ORChD as due to pay 1 million rubles in income tax and fines for grants it obtained in 2002-2004. ORChd said it received grants from a European Union commission and the U.S. National Fund for Support for Democracy.
Perm Mayor To Be Elected By Populace
The Perm City Duma on 13 September rejected amendments to the city charter proposed by Perm Oblast Governor Oleg Chirkunov and passed a document in which direct elections of the Perm mayor will be maintained, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 14 September. Chirkunov was promoting a variant by which an elected official would head the municipal body while executive power was to be passed to a hired manager. Meanwhile, a source in the oblast administration told the daily that "it is easier to back a candidate in mayoral elections...than to pass, with difficulty, a new charter and bring in an appropriate person to the city manager position."
Solikamsk Mayor Waiting For Court Verdict
Hearings on a criminal case against Solikamsk Mayor Mikhail Bogdanov finished on 12 September in a Solikamsk court, "Novyi region" (Perm) reported on 13 September. Bogdanov is accused of exceeding his powers while passing municipal property to private ownership. Speaking at the trial, Prosecutor Ilya Ivanov demanded that Bogdanov be sentenced to five years in jail and be deprived of the right to occupy managerial posts in state bodies for the next five years. The verdict is slated to be issued on 29 September.
Defense Industry Employees Hold Street Protests
Some 500 representatives of the aviation, defense, and radio industries staged a meeting on 15 September in Samara as part of a Russian-wide protest action, Regnum reported on 16 September. Trade unions of industries involved called for the covering of debts on payments for implementing state order and abolishing property taxes for defense industry companies.
Some 400 people took part in a meeting of defense industry company employees in Udmurtia's capital of Izhevsk on 15 September, Interfax-Povolzhe reported the same day. Similar street actions were also held the same day in Chapaevsk, Saratov, and Perm.
Former Interior Ministry Employees Accused Of Kidnapping, Extortion, Murder In Saratov Oblast
The Saratov Oblast Prosecutor's Office announced on 15 September that it has finished an investigation on the kidnapping and murder of Yugtransgaz Medical Service head Yevgenii Bandorin and his brother, Gazneftbank CEO Aleksei Bandorin (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 5 October 2004), "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 September.
Accusations of kidnapping, extortion, murder, and banditry were brought against the Interior Ministry's joint fast reaction detachment (SOBR), Lieutenant Colonel Valerii Zhirnov, interior special troops detachment (OMON) Captain Aleksei Torgashov, and the unemployed Vladimir Bykov and Konstantin Molchanov. One other person is wanted by law-enforcement bodies under the case.
Yevgenii Bandorin was kidnapped on 20 September 2004. On 2 October, Aleksei Bandorin and Saratov Oblast Directorate on Fighting Organized Crime Lieutenant Viktor Prutskikh were killed as they tried to give $450,000 to kidnappers. The body of Yevgenii Bandorin was found on 3 October.
Bykov, Molchanov, and Zhirnov are also accused of two more crimes. In 2002, they allegedly kidnapped Galina Shamkhalova, the wife of Saratov businessman Beitemir Shamkhalov, and allegedly received a ransom of $70,000 for her. In 2003, the three allegedly robbed $18,000 from an Engels businessman.
Protest Against Fake Medicines In Yekaterinburg
Over 15,000 residents of Yekaterinburg and other cities and towns in the Sverdlovsk Oblast marched in Yekaterinburg on 10 September to the Kosmos cinema and concert hall to protest fake medicines, Regnum reported on 12 September. The action was organized by the Profi trade union headed by State Duma Deputy Anton Bakov after the Center for the Defense of Patients' Rights revealed numerous cases of fake or expired medicines being sold in Yekaterinburg drugstores.
Prisoners Hold Hunger Strike In Ulyanovsk Oblast
A criminal case was filed on 13 September alleging abuse of power by employees of the Dimitrovgrad Correctional Labor Colony in Ulyanovsk Oblast after more than 180 prisoners began a hunger strike on 11 September, Interfax-Povolzhe and Regnum reported on 13 September. The strikers demanded that representatives of sexual minorities be separated from other prisoners, and that tea and cigarettes be permitted for prisoners in their cells. Protesters also refused to clean the bathrooms.
A senior assistant to oblast prosecutor Vasilii Zima told Regnum on 14 September that 40 strikers ended their action on evening of 13 September while the rest did the same the next morning; he added, however, that they "are not going to cancel their claims." Zima said prosecutors are investigating the circumstances and reasons for the conflict.
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova