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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 21, 2005

21 April 2005
Opinion Poll: None Of Putin's Colleagues Are Considered Serious Rivals
According to a public opinion poll conducted by the Yurii Levada Center in March, none of President Vladimir Putin's "closest politicians" are considered potential candidates for Russian president, wrote on 20 April. Twenty percent of respondents said, however, that they were ready to accept Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov as president and only 2 percent said they favored Tatar President Mintimer Shamiev or Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel for that post.

Regions Fail To Use Federal Transport Compensation
Transport Minister Igor Levitin told a government conference that Russia's territorial entities have used only 60 percent of federal money intended for covering the cost of transport vouchers for those people who had the right to free public transport before the controversial monetization of those in-kind benefits, reported on 20 April. The bulk of those unused funds are said to be in Moscow, where some 250.9 million rubles ($8.96 million) worth went unused, in Bashkortostan ($1.74 million), Tatarstan ($1.60 million), and Perm Oblast ($1.3 million).

Ukratatnafta, Other Companies Ask Moscow To Discuss Gas Price Affair With Ukraine
Top officials at major Russian oil industries operating in Ukraine, including TNK-PB, LUKoil, and the joint Tatar-Ukrainian company Ukrtatnafta, appealed to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to secure their rights in that country's gas market after the Ukrainian government set put caps on retail gasoline prices, "Novie Izvestiya" reported on 20 April. TNK -BP and LUKoil had previously declared that the new regulations prevented them from making a profit and warned that they will halt their production in order to prevent further losses. The oil companies that have extensive gas-station networks in Ukraine asked Fradkov to include the pricing issue on the agenda of his next meeting with Ukrainian Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko.

Daily Cites Lack Of Interaction Between Kazan And Republican Administrations
As the celebrations of the Kazan millennium anniversary near, a misunderstanding between the Kazan city and republican governments appears to be expanding, "Vechernyaya Kazan" wrote on 20 April. Both the republican cabinet and the mayor's office are still failing to cooperate, as evidence by the fact that republican officials don't go to city council meetings devoted to preparations for the anniversary event.

Given the numerous complaints from locals regarding city government policies, the millennium anniversary could be the last major event of Mayor Qamil Iskhaqov's career because on 25 September Kazan will elect a new city council, which will then appoint a mayor.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Parliament Changes Quorum Requirements
The Bashkir State Assembly has reduced its quorum requirements for parliamentary sessions from two thirds of the total number of deputies to just over a half. The change was made at the Assembly's 19 April plenary session, RosBalt and "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 19 and 20 April, respectively. Currently there are 116 representatives in the 120-seat legislature. By-elections to fill the empty seats are set for 26 June.

Rakhimov: State To Restore Control Over Petrochemical Companies Within Two Months
President Murtaza Rakhimov told reporters on 19 April that the return of Bashkortostan's petrochemical plants to the state will be completed by the end of June. The president added that key decisions on the issue will be reached 26 April at a session of the Bashkir Arbitration Court and meetings of shareholders of Ufa Oil Refinery, Novoil, Ufaneftekhim, Bashneft, Bashkirenergo, Ufaorgsintez, and Bashkirnefteprodukt.

In March 2004, control over those companies was passed to Bashkirskii kapital headed by President Rakhimov's son Ural. President Rakhimov initiated the return of the petrochemical sector companies to state ownership in the wake of a plot in the Bashkir parliament aimed at nominating Ural Rakhimov as its speaker (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 February 2005).

Bashkortostan Participates In Russian-Canadian Project To Develop Federalism
Bashkortostan has become a pilot region for a Russian-Canadian project to increase cooperation between Russian federal and regional-level authorities, RosBalt reported on 20 April.

The project, "Mechanisms for Harmonizing the Interests of Federal and Regional Governmental Bodies," also seeks new ways to develop Russian federalism and local self-government.

Representatives of Intergovernmental Affairs and Finance Canada and the Canada School of Public Service took part in a project conference starting on 20 April in Ufa.

Speaking at the forum, Bashkir presidential chief of staff Radii Khebirov said Bashkortostan can be rated first among Russia's entities in terms of "precise implementation of all requirements of federal legislation." But Khebirov criticized federal authorities for concentrating some powers in their own hands while at the same time shifting other responsibilities requiring large expenditures to the regions.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova