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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 12, 2002

12 April 2002
President Shaimiev Proposes Six Pardons
The daily "Respublika Tatarstan" on 6 April reported that Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev has proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin six pardons. Shaimiev suggested that the jail terms of six convicts -- sentenced to between four and a half and eight years -- be reduced by one and a half to two years. Pardon commissions were established in Russian Federation entities by a 28 December decree by the Russian president. Previously, Tatarstan law gave the power to pardon to the republic's president.

Religious, Ethnic Leaders Say Police Ignore Crimes Against Muslims
The heads of Russia's Council of Muftis, the Central Federal District administration, and national-cultural autonomies and national diasporas in Moscow held a meeting to discuss interethnic relations in the district, particularly in the cities of Moscow, Tver, and Kaluga, reported on 5 April. The website cited the information and analysis center of Russia's Council of Muftis. The chairman of Russia's Council of Muftis, Ravil Gainutdin, and leaders of national cultural autonomies and national diasporas of Tatars, Azeris, Vainakhs, peoples of Daghestan, Karachais, Uzbeks, and other Muslim peoples stressed the need to defend the rights of non-Russian ethnic groups. They said law enforcement inaction contributes to intolerance toward non-Russians -- including hooliganism and racism. Gainutdin expressed his dissatisfaction with what he called one-sided reports in the Russian media about events in Palestine. "Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky appears on screens more often than Russian politicians," Gainutdin said.

KamAZ Japanese Credit Unfrozen
KamAZ-Diesel, an arm of the KamAZ truck concern, began installing imported equipment under a contract with Japanese Kanematsu Corporation and the participation of Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., reported on 5 April. The contract was signed in 1997, after the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation provided a $150 million credit to KamAZ. The concern received the first consignment of equipment produced by European and Japanese machine-tool companies that same year. However, the project was put on hold after Russia's 1998 default. The Russian government, the contract's guarantor, unfroze the project in late 2001. The equipment will be received and installed by the end of May, allowing for production of a new model of KamAZ engine meeting Euro-2 standards.

Families Of Fallen Police Officers Receive Donations
The families of five policemen killed in early February in Tatarstan's Bua Raion will receive 400,000 rubles ($13,000) each in subsidies to purchase apartments, RIA-Novosti reported on 8 April. Five Interior Ministry employees and four civilians were killed when two deserters from an Ulyanovsk Oblast military unit went on a shooting rampage. Some 300,000 rubles of the 2 million rubles ($64,500) collected came from Tatarstan's Interior Ministry employees, while the rest was donated by republican residents. The agency cited Bua administration officials as saying a monument will be erected in Buinsk and streets will be named to honor the policemen.

Agriculture Ministry Reforms Unprofitable Farms
The Agriculture Ministry has launched an effort to fill senior management vacancies among unprofitable farms, reported on 9 April. Currently some 30 percent of the 1,051 agricultural farms in Tatarstan are unprofitable and owe the republican budget 5.8 billion rubles ($187 million). The ministry plans to reform 403 of them through mergers and ownership changes. One in four farm directors, representing 240 farmers in total, was dismissed in 2001.

Scholars Report Growing Sentiment Against Caucasians, Declining Anti-Semitism...
Sociology Professor Leokadia Drobizheva, the director of the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, told a Tatar-American seminar on federative and interethnic relations in Kazan on 4-5 April that anti-Caucasian feelings are widespread within the population in Russia, "Zvezda Povolhzhya" reported on 11 April. In the south of Russia, 26 percent of the population treats Caucasians negatively, Drobizheva said. She said anti-Semitism has fallen in Russia, from 15 percent in the mid-1980s to 5-7 percent.

...And Exponential Growth In Muslim Community
Rafik Mukhametshin, a doctor of political science, said at the same seminar that the Muslim clergy totals 5,000 in Tatarstan. The Muslim community has grown from 18 individuals to 900 in the past decade, he added. Roughly 500 Muslim Sunday schools, five Muslim secondary educational institutions, two institutions of higher learning, and an Islamic university operate in the republic, Mukhametshin said.

Ethnology Professor Promotes Federalization
Also at the same seminar, Ethnology Professor Damir Iskhakov suggested that Tatarstan be divided into ethnic cantons and recommended that ethnic quotas be introduced in the republican parliament. Iskhakov asserted that Tatarstan's transformation from a quasi-state to an ordinary autonomous entity with restricted powers is a fait accompli.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Parliament Asks Rakhimov To Defend Bashkortostan Constitution
In early April, Bashkortostan parliamentary deputies adopted an appeal to President Murtaza Rakhimov, expressing their disagreement with the 15 March ruling of the republic�s Supreme Court (see "Tatar-Bashkir Report", 5 April 2002), which said that 33 articles of Bashkortostan's Constitution contradicted the federal legislation, "Kommersant" daily reported on 11 April.

The appeal claimed that the court�s ruling "ran a pen through many months of collective work on adjusting the legislation and all the previous legislative activities of the parliament [that were] based on the power-sharing treaty between Ufa and Moscow signed in 1994."

The deputies claimed that federal authorities have ignored this treaty, which "inevitably caused the court ruling to be tendentious."

In their appeal, the deputies asked President Rakhimov to contact Russian President Vladimir Putin and to convince him to launch bilateral conciliation procedures similar to those used for editing the Bashkortostan Constitution in 2000.

"Kommersant" quoted Bashkortostan State Assembly deputy Zufar Yenikeev as asserting that the consideration of the Bashkortostan Constitution by the courts of general jurisdiction "violated the Russian Constitution." He also said that the approach currently used in Moscow "is explained by the desire of one of the sides to belittle the importance of this issue." He suggested that the constitutional contentions be considered by the conciliation bodies of the constitutional courts.

The Bashkortostan parliament passed the amended Constitution in November 2000, announcing that it was a landmark achievement in harmonization with federal legislation.

In late 2001, Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Alexander Zvyagintsev demanded that the Bashkortostan Supreme Court certify that 44 articles of the new Constitution contradicted federal legislation.

Congress Leader Criticized For Loyalty To Bashkortostan Government
Eduard Khamitov, chairman of the Executive Committee of the World Tatar Congress, responded to frequent criticism of the Tatar-rights movement in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan during the congress's meeting on 5 April, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Having been accused of being loyal to Bashkortostan authorities, Khamitov responded by saying, "in fact, there are several Tatar national organizations in Bashkortostan [and] each of them occupies its own place. Our organization aims to work both with Tatar people and the government. We have a joint view regarding the upcoming census, so we should cooperate [and] monitor it together, and we will reach the desired result."

In speaking about preparations for the third World Tatar Congress in Kazan in August, Khamitov suggested that his organization be re-registered as a Bashkortostan branch of the World Tatar Congress. After doing so, however, he faced serious opposition among the meeting's participants. As a result, a number of Tatar activists accused him of trying to push this decision by himself, without consulting the Bashkortostan World Tatar Congress members or its Executive Committee.

The meeting voted unanimously to hold the second World Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan in summer 2002, despite Khamitov's remark that it would not be held on the same high level as the first congress in 1997, because Bashkortostan is also going to host the second session of World Bashkir Congress this summer.

Meanwhile, a group of Tatar-rights activists in Bashkortostan applied to the republic's Justice Ministry with a request to register their organization, which is called Bashkortostan�s Tatars Congress, to replace the Khamitov-led body.

Ufa Motor Plant Gets New Owners
According to the 11 April edition of "Kommersant" Russia's SOK automotive group, which owns controlling stakes in several factories that produce parts for the VAZ automotive giant, has become one of the owners of the Ufa Motor Plant.

The contract for the purchase and sale of the plant calls for the formation of a joint-stock company to be named Ufa Automotive Motors Plant. Shares in the new company are to be divided the SOK group, the Izhevsk Automotive Plant, and the Ufa Motor-Building Venture, which is owned by the Bashkortostan government.

Bashprombank Repays More Than $3 Million Of Its Debts
Bashkortostan's Bashprombank has repaid, as of 8 April, 88.4 percent of its outstanding debt to customers, which had been incurred when the bank froze its customers' accounts during the 1998 financial crisis in Russia, AK&M news agency reported on 8 April. The bank returned to depositors 102.6 million rubles ($3.31 million) of a total of 115.9 million rubles ($3.7 million) owed. Since restructuring of the bank began in July 2000, 242,644 customers have received payment.

Assassination-Plot Charges Dropped Against Ufa Resident
Charges against Sergei Tyunov, a resident of Ufa, of plotting to assassinate Russia's Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov were dropped on 9 April, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Tyunov, who had been detained in Chechnya since 15 November, is now being held at a hospital in the Daghestan capital of Makhachkala.

Tyunov is now facing charges of being part of a militant group and of possession of illegal firearms. His condition is reported to be critical as a result of injuries sustained from a grenade blast. Before being arrested, he had already had one of his feet amputated because of an injury suffered during combat in Chechnya.

According to RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent, Bashkortostan military officials and the Committee for the Social Protection of Military Servicemen and Their Families are trying to have Tyunov transferred to a better-equipped hospital in Rostov-na-Donu.

Tatar Writers Union Resumes Struggle For Registration
Bashkortostan's Justice Ministry is protesting a March decision of the Kirov District Court in Ufa to grant registration to the Tatar Writers Union of Bashkortostan, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 10 April, following a conversation with the union's chairman, Reif Amirov.

The protest was filed three weeks after the ruling, despite the fact that federal law stipulates that a protest of a district-court ruling can only be filed within 10 days of that ruling.

The Tatar Writers Union has been involved in various court cases in Bashkortostan since 1994 in its quest to receive the right to be registered in the republic.

Distribution Of Private Investments In Bashkortostan
Robert Yagapov, deputy chairman of Bashkortostan�s Council for Private Business Support, told a news conference in Ufa on 8 April that more than 25 percent of the all investments made by small businesses in Bashkortostan are in the industrial sector. Fifty-seven percent of investments are reportedly being spent on equipment and inventory, while 24 percent are used for obtaining and repairing real estate.

Drug Use Main Culprit In AIDS Cases In Republic
Bashkortostan's AIDS Prevention Center revealed that, during the first five days of April, 39 individuals in the republic tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, a Health Ministry spokesman said on 8 April. The center has 2,918 registered cases of HIV, more than 2,500 of which are young people between 15 and 30 years of age.

The vast majority of these people -- more than 2,200 individuals -- were reportedly infected with HIV as a result of intravenous drug use.

Health Official Reports Unclaimed Bodies At Ufa Morgue
Evgenii Evdokimov, the head of anatomical pathology at the UFA Department of Health, said on 10 April that, since 2001, 168 bodies at the city morgue have not been claimed by relatives of the deceased, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Ninety percent of the deceased are children.

Since the beginning of 2002, the bodies of another 57 children have been left unclaimed at the morgue.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Marii El Authorities Provide Subsidies For Marii National Media
Marii El President Leonid Markelov charged the republic's State Property Ministry with allocating money for establishing fixed capital for the Marii newspapers "Marii El," "Kugarnya," and "Yamde lii," reported on 7 April. The measure is intended to help the media to become more economically independent. According to a government decision, the Marii El Press and Information Ministry will become a board member of the Marii magazines "Onchyko," "U sem," and "Keche." The president also urged the Finance Ministry to provide Marii national media with additional subsidies.

Rearrangement Of National Organizations Leadership In Marii El
Journalist Valerii Mochaev was elected the new chairman of the republican public organization Marii Ushem at its conference, reported on 5 April. Mochaev headed Marii Ushem in Yoshkar-Ola and recently has headed the Social Democratic Party of Russia in Marii El. Opposition media commented that the Marii public movement found a strong and experienced leader in the person of Mochaev, the agency said. At the same time, Marii national opposition sharply criticized the establishment of the Congress of Marii Intelligentsia public organization, calling it pro-government. A correspondent cited unidentified representatives of the Marii opposition as commenting that the Congress of Marii Intelligentsia will be opposed to Marii Ushem and enjoy the support of government bodies. Sergei Ivanov, the former chief producer of the Marii Shketan National Theater, heads the Congress of Marii Intelligentsia.

Nizhnii Legislature Elects Federation Council Senator
The Nizhnii Novgorod Legislative Assembly on 11 April elected its former speaker, Dmitrii Bednyakov, to represent the body in the Russian Federation Council, reported. Bednyakov received 24 votes, one vote more than necessary. Bednyakov competed with Anatolii Kozeradskii, the assembly's current representative to the Federation Council and also former speaker of the Nizhnii Novgorod legislature.

Bednyakov was Nizhnii Novgorod mayor in 1992-94, but was dismissed by decree of the Russian president. In 1998, he became a deputy in the oblast Legislative Assembly and was elected its speaker in 2001. In the 31 March 2002 local parliamentary election, he was on the ballot in a district where elections were declared invalid because of low voter turnout.

Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Speaker Quits SPS
The chairman of the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Legislative Assembly, Yevgenii Lyulin, cancelled his membership in the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), reported on 6 April. Lyulin stressed in his appeal that "a head of a regional legislative body should not be a member of any political organization. The only 'party' for which he is to serve is a 'party of Nizhnii Novgorod residents,'" he said.

Since 1999, Lyulin has been a member in the political council of Novaya Sila in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast -- the movement established by Sergei Kirienko. Since 2001, Lyulin has been a member of the political council of SPS in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast.

Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev praised Lyulin's decision to stop his party membership, Nizhnii Novgorod news service reported on 5 April. Khodyrev himself cancelled his membership in the Communist Party after he was elected governor.

Nizhnii Enlistment Office Seeks To Send Alternative Servicemen To Army
The Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Enlistment Office on 5 April sent call-up papers to draftees serving alternative civil service in the Nizhnii Novgorod First Gradskaya Hospital to send them to military service, reported the same day. Colonel Aleksandr Kozyrev, the deputy chairman of the oblast military commissioner, said his office proceeded from the court decision that abolished the experiment on alternative civil service as illegitimate.

A detachment of 21 draftees began alternative civil service in Nizhnii Novgorod on 4 January. On 15 February, the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Court recognized the resolution of the city mayor on the experiment to create a mechanism for alternative civil service illegal.

Newspaper To Pay Samara Mayor 90,000 Rubles
Samara Mayor Georgii Limanskii is to be paid 90,000 rubles ($2,900) by the local "Samarskoye obozrenie" newspaper in compensation for the publication of untruthful information in the article entitled "Infant terrible" on 23 July, "Samara segodnya" reported on 8 April. In September, a court ordered "Samarskoye obozrenie" to pay 80,000 rubles ($2,580) in compensation to Limanskii. The second hearing on the case was initiated by the newspaper.

Russian CEC Restores NPRF's Registration In Sverdlovsk Oblast Parliamentary Elections
The Russian Central Electoral Commission (CEC) annulled the decision of the Sverdlovsk Oblast CEC that denied registration of the People's Party of the Russian Federation (NPRF) in the oblast parliamentary elections, "Novyi region" reported on 5 April.

The "VremyaMN" daily commented on 6 April that the rating of "pro-presidential" NPRF, despite its strong political basis, hardly reaches 2 percent in Sverdlovsk Oblast. The daily wrote that the media showed little interest in the fact that NPRF was refused a registration in the parliamentary elections, while the restoration of its registration by the Russian CEC aroused even less interest.

The daily quoted local political researchers as commenting that the image of being persecuted is currently more advantageous for the party than failure in its first elections.

Sverdlovsk Defense Companies Owed 1.2 Billion Rubles By State Budget
The presidium of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Defense Industry Enterprises Union appealed to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and presidential envoy to the Ural District Petr Latyshev to investigate into the situation around debts to oblast defense companies for order by the state, UralBusinessConsulting reported on 5 April. The agency cited union representatives as saying that the debt, which is constantly growing, totaled 1.2 billion rubles ($38.7 million) on 1 February.

Tyumen Residents Protest Municipal Services Reform
More than 50 residents on 10 April staged a meeting to protest a reform of municipal services in Tyumen, the Tyumenskaya liniya agency reported the same day. The event was organized by the Tyumen Oblast Council of Industrial and Office Workers, Peasants, and Specialists (Tyumenskii oblastnoi sovet rabochikh, krestyan, spetsialistov i sluzhashchikh), the Working Tyumen (Trudovaya Tyumen) movement, the oblast committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and the Oblast Trade Union Committee. Participants carried placards calling for a return of rent to the rate it was during the Soviet period and to provide people with enough wages before demanding them to pay 100 percent of the cost of municipal services. Demonstrators also collected signatures on an appeal due to be sent to Tyumen Oblast Governor Sergei Sobyanin.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova