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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 13, 2002

13 December 2002
Tatar School Principal Makes Claims Of Persecution
The head of the Tatar school in Belebei, Nurmokhemmet Khoseinov, continues to say that Bashkir authorities are persecuting him for his claims of violations of Tatar rights in the republic (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2, 4, and 6 September 2002), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 9 December. Khoseinov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service the same day that district Education Department officials have forced school employees to sign documents accusing him of violations. Khoseinov also claimed that the Education Department has suggested that all of his deputies to move to other educational institutions. As a last resort in order to avoid being persecuted, Khoseinov said, he will appeal to officials in the Russian presidential administration who earlier visited him in Belebei and offered to provide help if necessary.

Ufa Looks To Increase Cooperation With Turkey
While on a visit to Ufa on 3-4 December, Turkey's consul-general in Kazan, Ismail Sefa Yujeer, met with the head of the Ufa administration, Reuf Nogomanov, to discuss the possibility of cooperation in a number of areas, Bashinform reported on 6 December. The two agreed to develop cooperation in business, industry, trade, and culture, as well as relations between the sister cities of Ankara and Ufa. Nogomanov suggested that Bashkortostan could use Turkey's experience in the development of small and medium-sized businesses. Nogomanov said Ufa is interested in attracting investments and importing high-technology products from Turkey.

UralSib's Ratings Confirmed
The Russian ratings agency Interfax -- the Russian partner of the Moody's international rating agency -- has confirmed the A2 (rus) long-term rating and the RUS-2 short-term rating that UralSib bank was given in July, Interfax reported on 9 December. The Bashkir government owns a 66 percent stake in the bank, which provides for much of the cash flow in the republic. The UralSib network in Bashkortostan includes four branches and 17 subsidiaries.

The A2 (rus) rating means that the borrower has the ability to service and pay off its long-term debts on time, though it is still subject to external conditions, whereas the RUS-2 rating indicates the bank's high level of creditability in comparison with other Russian borrowers.

Bashkirenergo To Build New Wind-Power Station
Bashkirenergo has announced plans to construct a new wind-power station in Khaibulla Raion in 2003, Bashinform reported on 9 December. The first such facility in Bashkortostan was launched a year ago in Tuimazy Raion and has since produced more than 2 million kilowatt-hours of energy.

Monument To Georgian Poet To Be Built In Ufa
Bashkortostan's Shota Rustaveli Center of Georgian National Culture decided at its 9 December meeting to erect a monument to Rustaveli on the Ufa street named after the Georgian poet, ITAR-TASS reported the same day.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Shoigu Sees No Reasons To Move People From Radiation-Polluted Area In Chelyabinsk Oblast
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry does not support an amendment to the 2003 budget promoting the allocation of 10 million rubles ($314,000) for moving residents of the village of Tatarskaya Karabolka in Chelyabinsk Oblast , which was polluted by radiation in the 1957 nuclear disaster at the Mayak company, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 6 December. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu responded to State Duma Deputy (Yabloko) Sergei Mitrokhin who proposed the amendment that the ministry "has no grounds to support the proposal on moving Tatarskaya Karabolka residents and to allocate budgetary funds for this."

In the 45 years since the accident, the population of Tatarskaya Karabolka fell from 4,000 to 640, and some 10 percent of the residents suffer from cancer diseases, while the Russian average rate is below 1 percent.

Finnish Newspaper Reports Press-Freedom Violations In Marii El
The European Parliament in January plans to discuss the issue of press-freedom violations by Marii El authorities, Privolzhe reported on 10 December citing the Finnish "Helsingin sanomat" newspaper. The Finnish paper reported that the leadership of the Marii El State Television and Radio Company cancelled transmission of a program in which Marii national organization Marii Ushem leader Anatolii Aleksandrov expressed an opposition view. The paper cited a case of censorship that restricted saying the name of Ivan Teterin, the former commander of the North Caucasian Military District who ran against incumbent President Leonid Markelov in the past presidential elections. The articles drew sharp criticism by Markelov who demanded that "Helsingin sanomat" publish a retraction, the agency said. The agency cited Finnish European Parliament Deputy Tutti Isohookana-Asunmaa as criticizing a recent legislative move in Marii El that announced studying the native language voluntary, not obligatory. The deputy said that innovation contradicts Russia's obligations under the Council of Europe's framework agreement on defense of national minorities.

Dzerzhinsk Mayor Loses Defamation Suit To Election Rival
The Dzerzhinsk City Court ruled in favor of a suit by Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Legislative Assembly deputy Viktor Portnov and former Dzerzhinsk Mayor Sergei Trofimov against current Dzerzhinsk Mayor Vladimir Brikker, Privolzhe reported on 6 December. The claimants sued Brikker and several deputies of the Dzerzhinsk City Duma for publication of an open letter in the "Dzerzhinets" newspaper on 27 September which defamed their honor, dignity, and business reputation. The publication appeared on the eve of the second round of Dzerzhinsk's mayoral elections in which Portnov and Brikker were running. The court clarified that the eight Dzerzhinsk City Duma deputies whose names were listed on the letter as signatories in fact did not sign it. The court sentenced Brikker to pay Portnov and Trofimov each 3,000 rubles ($94) and to issue a retraction of the letter.

Skinheads Adopt Islam
Skinheads who came to the Nizhnii Novgorod Sobornaya mosque for a pogrom during an Eid al-Fitr holiday prayer adopted Islam after listening to a sermon by mufti Umyar Idrisov, reported on 6 December citing Nizhnii Novgorod TV. The local television station also reported that it was the first time so many people came for the holiday prayer to the mosque, which was surrounded by Muslims for a radius of 1 kilometer.

Participant In Nizhnii Alternative-Service Experiment Appeals To Strasbourg
The European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg accepted for consideration a suit by Vsevolod Kurepin, who participated in the experiment on alternative civil service in Nizhnii Novgorod, reported on 10 December citing NTV. Kurepin wants the federal law on alternative service to be amended. He said since the bill will not become law until 1 January 2004, it cannot be contested in general courts or in the Constitutional Court. The first experiment on alternative civil service in Russia began in fall 2001 in Nizhnii Novgorod when 20 young men selected by a call-up commission were sent to that city's First Gradskaya Hospital. After half a year, the oblast court declared the experiment illegal.

Perm Visitors Can Spend Night In Gulag
Tourists visiting Perm can now spend one night in the Gulag, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 10 December. The project, initiated by the Permtourist company together with the Political Repression Museum Perm-36, was supported by local human rights defenders and former political prisoners of the prison. A night in a small prison cell and a bowl of thin soup cost several hundred dollars. State Duma Deputy Sergei Kovalev (Union of Rightist Forces), who was kept in the Perm camp from 1976 till 1980, also backed the idea.

Construction Of Plant To Destroy Chemical Weapons Finished In Saratov Oblast
A state commission on 9 December formally approved the first Russian plant to destroy chemical weapons in the village of Gornyi, Saratov Oblast, Privolzhe reported on 10 December. The construction of the facility was financed by the international Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The plant is scheduled to be launched on 17-18 December, after Russian Agency on Ammunition General Director Zinovii Pak signs the act of its formal approval.

Yperite and lewisite totaling 2.9 percent of the entire volume of Russia's chemical weapons are kept in Gornyi.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova