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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 5, 2000

5 October 2000
Tatarstan Newspaper Reports On Tatar Complaints In Bashkortostan
28 September

Tatarstan's "Zvezda Povolzhya" newspaper published a number of articles devoted to the latest developments in neighboring Bashkortostan on 28 September. According to the newspaper, Bashkortostan's branch of the moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TPC) asked the Russian General-Prosecutor to investigate the infringement of the civil rights of the republic's Tatar-speaking population. The TPC claimed that President Murtaza Rakhimov and the Bashkortostan State TV and Radio Company were guilty of the infringement. The TPC said: "Tatars living in Bashkortostan consider themselves aggrieved. It's quite natural. They represent over 40 percent of the total population, but Bashkortostan's State Assembly has only acknowledged Russian and Bashkir as state languages. This hurt the feelings of about 2 million people. Another incident that contradicts the nature of a democratic state occurred recently as well. Nail Kildiyar, of the city of Salavat, wanted to have a birthday greeting and a Tatar song for his wife broadcast by Bashkortostan TV and Radio Company. It rejected Kildiyar's request, explaining that there is a special regulation from Bashkortostan's president that prohibits broadcasting Tatar songs."

Later, the chief editor of Bashkortostan TV and Radio, Shaura Gilmanova, denied the statement as quoted by the Tatar Public Center. She said "Tatar radio service in Bashkortostan broadcasts four-hour programs across the republic daily. The same is true for television."

The TPC commented on Gilmanova's statement by saying that "she deliberately made an elusive statement for the citizens of the multinational republic." The TPC cited the only Tatar program available on Bashkortostan TV and Radio as being "Raikhan," a 25-minute program shown each week, refuting Gilmanova's statement that there are four daily hours of Tatar-language programs.

Zvezda Povolzhya also reported that the European Court on Human Rights recently registered a claim by Rustem Sultanov against Bashkortostan's government. For last five years Sultanov has been trying to reclaim a piece of land in central Ufa that belonged to his family before the October revolution in 1917. Appealing to the courts at different levels in Bashkortostan and the Russian Federation, Sultanov complained that houses of historical value were destroyed on the property so that two luxurious villas for president Murtaza Rakhimov could be built. Sultanov said he "now claims the right of expatriation from Russian citizenship due to political motives." Sultanov told a Kazan newspaper that "instead of giving some distinct reply" to his claims, Bashkortostan's presidential staff chief sent him a letter with advice "on how to correctly compile an application for expatriation from the Russian Federation for political reasons." Sultanov said that "frankly speaking, Gimayev's letter bewildered me because I didn't ask for such consultations from him." Sultanov's case reportedly was given the registration number 593441 by the European Court on Human Rights.

Presidential Election Issue Shows Contradictions Between Tatarstan's And Federal Legislation
29 September-3 October

A resolution by Tatarstan's parliament to hold elections in December instead of March 2001 will most likely be revised at a special parliamentary session on 9 October, as suggested by President Mintimer Shaimiev, Tatarstan's media reported on 3 October. The decision by the parliament was sharply criticized by Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov on 29 September. He said that lawsuits would follow the entire election campaign in the republic. Veshnyakov told Russian media that the decision by Tatarstan's parliament violates federal laws, which prohibit the holding of pre-term elections for a president without urgent reasons such as an early retirement or illness. According to Tatarstan's Presidential Election Act, it is possible to alter the official election date by three months either before or after the original date.

Although the contradictions between republican laws and federal legislation have yet to be settled and the election date is still to be determined, there are some signs that the presidential election campaign started has begun in Tatarstan.

According to Tatar media on 29 September, Dmitry Berdnikov was the first one to appeal for registration as a candidate at Tatarstan's Central Election Commission (CEC) after the republican parliament adopted the resolution on moving the presidential elections up to December. The 33-year old businessman officially addressed the CEC by stating that he would begin collecting signatures from his supporters. According to the republican law, a presidential candidate must have 50,000 signatures in order to register with the CEC.

Berdnikov's said in a statement that he doesn't represent any political parties or movements. He is already known, however, as a contestant in election campaigns for the Russian presidency in March, Moscow mayor, and gubernatorial posts in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad oblasts, Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, and Stavropol. Berdnikov reportedly run for the presidential posts in Udmurtiya and Mari El republics. In his list of failures, he also included a loss in a campaign for Tatarstan's parliament in December 1999.

The 30 September meeting of the Russian Communist Party branch in Tatarstan considered its participation in future presidential elections. Robert Sadikov was unanimously elected to represent the Communists in the election. Sadikov is the deputy chairman of Tatarstan's Communist Party. Chairman Aleksandr Saliy, a Russian Duma deputy representing Tatarstan, is reportedly uninterested in a future presidential run.

Saeskan Tau Accident Being Investigated
1 October

An investigation into the 17 September accident at Saeskan Tau which claimed the lives of 10 women on an intercity bus is ongoing, Tatarstan TV reported on 1 October. According to a statement by chief investigator Sergei Fedyukhin, the bus driver is currently suspected of being responsible for the tragedy. As RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 September, the bus crashed through a safety wall while boarding a ferry. Fedyukhin told reporters on 1 October that it has been revealed that along with other numerous malfunctions, the bus had a broken starter. The bus presumably fell into the Kama River after the driver tried to start the bus by rolling down the hill in gear. The original cause of the accident was thought to be brake malfunction.

Worker's Claim Gives Everyone In Bashkortostan An Extra Day Off
3 October

Bashkortostan's Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security enforced a verdict by the Soviet district court in Ufa on 3 October that will result in an extra vacation day in the republic, the Rossbusiness Consulting agency ( reported. The court upheld a claim by Ufa trolley station worker Mikhail Khodyakov, who complained that 2 May was not a holiday in Bashkortostan. Both 1 and 2 May are commemorated as holidays in the Russian Federation.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi