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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 20, 2002

20 September 2002
Case Delayed As Deputies Skip Court Appearance
The Tatar Supreme Court on 18 September rescheduled a hearing in a case initiated by the Equality and Legality movement against the Tatar Central Election Commission to 27 September because the defendants failed to appear in court, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Equality and Legality claims that the election commission illegally allowed 56 State Council deputies to retain their positions in regional administrations after they had become elected deputies. Members of Equality and Legality told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent that they plan file an appeal over the court delays with the Russian Supreme Court and that they plan to find another court to try the case.

New Kirienko Employees Working For Free
A representative office of presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko was opened in Tuben Kama on 17 September, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The new office reportedly provides legal services to city residents at no charge. Moreover, those working at the office reportedly also receive no financial remuneration from Kirienko's office. Two similar representative offices exist in Kazan and Chally.

Tatneft Invited To Expand Activities In Syria
Tatneft has been invited to take part in a tender for prospecting for new oil deposits and for increasing the output of existing deposits in Syria, AK&M news agency reported on 19 September. The general director of the Syrian Oil Company, Akhmad Mualla, also proposed that Tatneft cooperate more closely with his company, the agency said. Tatneft also carries out prospecting activities in Iran and Iraq.

Shaimiev Thanks Oblast Head For 'Comfortable' Life Of Tatars
While in Chelyabinsk Oblast on 13-14 September, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 16 September 2002) told reporters that he thought the 250,000 Tatars living in the region were "very comfortable" there. Shaimiev then thanked oblast Governor Petr Sumin and the local people for helping to maintain positive relations among various ethnic groups. Shaimiev also promoted economic cooperation between Tatarstan and the oblast.

Academy Signs Cooperation Deal With Jordanian University
The Tatar Academy of Sciences has signed a cooperation agreement with Jordan's Az-Zarka Islamic University, reported on 16 September. The agreement calls for an exchange of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as an exchange of texts and other forms of cooperation. The Az-Zarka university recently signed a similar agreement with Kazan State University.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tatars, Bashkirs Fighting War Of Words
In an article on 19 September, "Zvezda povolzhya" commented that the past week has been characterized by a propaganda war between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan on a level that hasn't been seen for a decade.

An RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 15 September that all mass media in Bashkortostan have rejected the statement made by Belebey Tatar high-school principal Nurmokhemmet Khoseyenov at a 30 August meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Tatar Congress that "it is difficult to be a Tatar in Bashkortostan" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 and 11 September 2002).

In an interview with "Qyzyl tang" on 13 September, Bashkir State Assembly Legislative Chamber Chairman Fenis Emerov, who took part in the Tatar congress, said Khoseyenov's assertion was the result of "poor breeding." Emerov said the real threat facing Bashkirs and Tatars is directed at their sovereignty and statehood, adding that the two peoples should work together in fighting this threat.

In an article published by, Tatar National Cultural Autonomy Chairman Rimzil Weliev, said Khoseyenov was pursued for a year because he hung a welcome sign in Tatar above the entrance of his school building. Weliev said that Bashkir authorities demanded that the sign be replaced by one in Bashkir.

In an interview in "Zvezda povolzhya" on 19 September, Tatar presidential adviser Rafael Khekimov called Khoseyenov "a courageous person" who said something many people would like to say. Khekimov said it would be necessary, sooner or later, to tell President Putin about the condition of Tatars in Bashkortostan. Khekimov said that Tatars in Tatarstan have been silent on the issue because of the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of another region, but he added that "a political regime exists in Bashkortostan that does not accord with the general trend in Russian Federation and in the world."

Paper Casts Doubt On Reliability Of Census Statistics In Republic
During a meeting on 30 August, President Putin and Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev agreed that the Federal Security Service, or FSB, will monitor how the Russian census is conducted in Bashkortostan in October, "Zvezda povolzhya" reported on 19 September, citing an unidentified source. The weekly reported that the Bashkir government had told local administration heads in the republic what percentage of Bashkirs they should secure during the census. The paper added that the results of the census in Bashkortostan have already been prepared.

Bashkir Authorities Ban Tatar Performances
Performances featuring artists from Tatarstan have been banned in Bashkortostan, "Zvezda povolzhya" reported on 19 September, citing a Bashkir deputy prime minister whose name was not reported. The deputy prime minister said that the ban was a response to poor behavior by Tatar leaders at the World Tatar Congress in late August. The Tatar government has nonetheless sent artists to perform in Bashkortostan.

Lenin Monument Finds New Home
A monument to Lenin that was placed in a park in the village of Isyangulovo, Zianchura Raion, in late August, Bashinform reported on 13 September, citing a report in "Zianchurinskie zori." The monument had been removed from Isyangulovo's central square two years ago, and local authorities had been looking for a new location for it ever since.

Federal Agency Established To Control Republic's Resources
The Administration for the Preservation of Natural Resources and the Environment was established in Bashkortostan last week, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 13 September. The administration, which will answer to the Russian Natural Resources Ministry, will be responsible for supervising the use of all natural resources in the republic. As a result, the republic's Forestry Ministry, State Ecology Committee, and the State Committee on Geology and the Use of Natural Resources are to be combined into one body.

Parents Protest Closure Of Turkish-Run School
At a meeting with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and other republican leaders last week, the parents of students from a Turkish-owned boarding school in Oktyabrskii protested the school's closing, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 13 September.

The school had about 50 students who studied Tatar, Arabic, and English, as well as the main tenets of Islam. The RFE/RL correspondent said that is was likely that the teaching of Islam led to the school's closure, as a campaign was launched in the media to discredit the school, the correspondent said.

The media presented only one side of the issue, the correspondent said, while reasons were found to deport several of the teachers from Russia.

Oktyabrskii authorities recently issued a resolution to close the school and use the building, which was repaired by the Turkish founders of the school, as a rehabilitation center for disabled children. One of the school's directors, who asked not to be named, said the decision to close the school will be appealed in court.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Newspaper Forced To Pay 20,000 Rubles To Federal Official
The Kirov Lenin Raion Court agreed with a challenge by the chief federal inspector in Kirov Oblast, Valentin Pugach, against the "Gubernskie vesti" newspaper, NTA Privolzhye reported on 16 September. The court obliged the publication to pay him 20,000 rubles ($632) in compensation for moral harm and to renounce its previous reports that "defamed the inspector's honor and dignity." "Gubernskie vesti," the Kirov Oblast government's official newspaper, wrote in its 16 August publication titled "Chief Federal Inspector Forced Press, But Not Businessmen, To Its Knees," that Pugach embezzled money.

The agency noted that the result is another victory for Pugach in his battle with Kirov Oblast Governor Vladimir Sergeenkov. In July, Pugach made public the results of an audit of the oblast government that revealed financial violations. The agency also cited unidentified people as saying that articles reporting about gifts that Governor Vladimir Sergeenkov is alleged to have received were also initiated by the chief federal inspector.

Kurgan Authorities Concerned About Plans To Deliver Chemical Weapons To Oblast
Plans to transport chemical weapons from Udmurtia and destroy them in Shchuchye, Kurgan Oblast, has caused an uproar among the local population and oblast officials, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 18 September. The agency cited the chairman of the Shchuchanskii Natural Resources Committee, Viktor Ozeryanskii, as saying, "the government deceived us" when it adopted government resolution No. 510 and the December 2001 amendment to the federal law on the destruction of chemical weapons that was passed by the State Duma. The amendment permits chemical weapons to be imported into other republics and destroyed. Previously only chemical weapons stored within an entity could be destroyed on that territory. Shchuchanskii Raion head Sergei Kirilov said the amendment to the law was adopted in an emergency manner and without taking into account the interest of residents.

The chemical weapons destruction facility under construction in Shchuchye was intended to destroy only the 5.5 million tons of chemical weapons kept in the oblast, which is reported to be some 13.6 percent of the total in Russia. Now, the chemical weapons kept in the Kizner village of Udmurtia, where 14.2 of Russia's total quantity is kept, is also slated to be destroyed there.

Former Nizhnii Mayoral Candidate Appeals To Oblast Court...
Andrei Klimenteev, former mayor of Nizhnii Novgorod and a convicted felon, is calling for the results of the first round of the 15 September mayoral elections to be annulled, reported on 17 September, citing Ekho Moskvy radio. Klimenteev said he has made his appeal to the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Court. On 14 September, a Nizhnii Novgorod raion court recognized the case of another candidate, Oleg Gryaznov, who demanded that Klimenteev's registration as a candidate be refused. Klimenteev said he is sure that votes were counted incorrectly, as "my voters are not only the 30 percent who voted against all [the candidates], but also the 30 percent who tore up and trampled election ballots in voting stations, who wrote my name in on ballots." Klimenteev added that "we will do [everything we can to get] people to vote against all [the candidates] in the second round. It is necessary to annul these elections."

Speaking at a session of the Nizhnii Novgorod Electoral Commission on 18 September, commission member Viktor Chumak said the results of the vote were falsified since the commission intentionally recognized as invalid a significant part of the ballots in which people voted "against all [the candidates]," reported. The commission recognized as invalid some 10,012 ballots. Chumak said that if they were recognized as being valid then the number of those who voted "against all" would exceed the number of votes for incumbent Mayor Yurii Lebedev, who won the first round, thus the entire elections could be considered invalid. Lebedev collected 98,699 votes (31.42 percent), followed by State Duma Deputy Vadim Bulavinov (30.85 percent), while 95,168 people (30.35 percent) voted against all candidates. A total of only 29.03 percent of the electorate took part in the voting. The second round is slated for 29 September.

...To Strasbourg Court
The European Court in Strasbourg will begin hearing on 19 September the challenge of Andrei Klimenteev versus the Russian Federation, the Nizhnii Novgorod news service reported on 16 September, citing Klimenteev's lawyer, Viktor Chumak.

Klimenteev was arrested and later convicted of fraud and theft of state credit shortly after he won the 1998 mayoral elections in Nizhnii Novgorod. Chumak said Klimenteev's challenge to the Strasbourg court includes nine issues, including asking the court to recognize as illegal the former mayor's arrest, the seizing of his property, and the violation of his electoral rights.

Journalists Of Penza Outlets Attacked
Employees of the town of Penza's opposition, procommunist newspaper "Lyubimyi gorod" were beaten on 11 September, NTA Privolzhye reported on 13 September. Two men were reported to have severely beaten the newspaper's editor in chief, Anton Sharov, and three correspondents whose names were not reported. Recently, "Lyubimyi gorod" has published the sharpest criticism of the oblast governor and government among all local media. The reporters who were attacked said that they have been previously threatened on many occasions.

"Penzenskaya pravda" reported on 18 September that its correspondent, Viktor Shamaev, was attacked on 14 September. Shamaev was kidnapped, taken to an unknown location, and severely beaten. Attackers demanded that he resign from the paper and leave the city. Shamaev specializes in reports on criminality.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova