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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 12, 2004

12 January 2004
Tatarstan Preparing For Life Without Federal Subsidies
According to Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, after completion of the four-year federal program for Tatarstan's social and economic development in 2006 the republic will lose about $300 million in direct annual subsidies, "Vremya i Dengi" reported on 9 December. The government will reportedly seek to fill this gap by boosting external investment, increasing the number of taxpaying industries, lowering budget expenses, and developing the internal market for services.

Minnikhanov also said that in 2004 his cabinet will intensify its efforts to attract long-term, low-interest loans for smoothing the transition to the new period without massive federal support. He added that he disliked the idea of the republic in debt and considers complex industrial development to be the only way out for Tatarstan. At the same time, some news agencies have quoted Minnikhanov as denying the possibility of the republic borrowing money in 2004 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 January 2004).

Minnikhanov said that Tatarstan will have to increase its gross regional product by some $2 billion to gain enough tax income to compensate for the loss of annual federal subsidies.

The republic's economy continues to be dominated by the oil industry. Due to a lack of technical resources, only 6 million-7 million of the 29 million tons of oil extracted locally every year are processed inside Tatarstan, thus taking most of the profits from oil processing to other regions.

Chally Police Claim Muslim Women Are Dangerous
Kama-Press cited an unnamed source within the Chally city Interior Ministry department on 9 January as claiming that female Muslim communities (jamaats) are being formed in Tatarstan's second city in addition to the existing male communities, which allegedly promote unspecified, radical streams of Islam. Young women aged 16 to 25 are said to make up the majority of such communities. The unnamed police officer told Kama-Press that those communities are feared to be influenced by radical Islamic groups to prepare suicide bombers (shekhids).

During last year's "Fatima" operation, seven women from Chechnya were detained in Chally. However, none of the detainees were charged with anything besides lacking proper registration for their stay in Chally.

The agency noted that in order to prevent terrorist acts, the police "advise Chally residents to pay special attention to Muslim women wearing thick clothes and headscarves knotted 'Turkish style' at the back of the head."

Tatarstan's Economy Said To Have Recovered To 1990 Level
For the first time in 14 years of perestroika, Tatarstan has managed to regain the level of economic development in 1990, Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Rashat Fattakhov told reporters on 8 January, VolgaInform reported the same day. The ministry's figures released the same day show that in 2003 the republic's gross regional product rose by 3.2 percent to 300 billion rubles ($10.3 billion) as compared to 2002 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 January 2004). The average monthly wage in 2003 was reported at 4,405 rubles ($146), which is 18 percent higher than in 2002.

Tatneft Expects Only Slight Gain In Production In 2004
The Tatneft oil company plans to extract some 24.683 million tons of oil in 2004, which is only 83,900 tons more than in 2003, Tatarinform reported on 9 January. This year, the company projects about 16 billion rubles ($533 million) in profits, if the average world oil price stays at $20 per barrel and the domestic price remains at $100 per ton.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan's Tatars Insist On Official Status For Tatar Language
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 9 January, a senior member of the Bashkortostan Tatar Congress and a Tatarstan trade representative said that Tatar civic groups in Bashkortostan continue to believe that state-language status should be extended to Tatar. Ramil Bignov said there are 1.5 million ethnic Tatars in Bashkortostan, which is higher than the number of ethnic Bashkirs in the republic. Bignov was responding to a statement by the chairman of the Bashkir Congress's executive committee, Ekhmet Soleimanov, in which Soleimanov said that granting state-language status to Tatar would prompt demands for similar recognition from the Chavash, Maris, and other peoples in Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 January 2003). Soleimanov conceded that several languages could be afforded official status. Bignov noted that there are seven languages with official status in Daghestan. President Murtaza Rakhimov recently spoke favorably of revising the Tatar language's status in Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12 December 2003).

Presidential Spokesman Says Tatars In Bashkortostan Live Better Than In Neighboring Tatarstan
The Bashkir presidential press service's Gali Feizov authored an article in "Kyzyl tang" of 9 January in which he countered allegations in Tatarstan's "Zvezda Povolzhya," "Tatarstan yeshlere," and "Tatarstan" publications that Tatars' rights in Bashkortostan are not respected. In "Bashkortostan and Tatarstan In A Mirror Of Statistics," Feizov said social wealth is a key issue in relations between citizens and the authorities, not ethnic identity. He asserted that Tatars in Bashkortostan live better than those in Tatarstan owing to Bashkortostan's superior economic climate, although he conceded at the same time that incomes are considerably lower in Bashkortostan. Bashkortostan's average income is on the rise, he added.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova