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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 8, 2004

8 April 2004
Prime Minister Inspects Downtrodden Industrial Town
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov visited Yeshel Uzen on 7 April to inspect local industries and discuss the city's social policies, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Yeshel Uzen is best known as the home city of a shipbuilding plant and a munitions factory, formerly run by the Russian Defense Ministry. Resident's average monthly wage is 3,648 rubles ($128), 25 percent below the republic's average.

Meeting with local businesspeople, Minnikhanov encouraged them to submit ideas to the republican government to facilitate the development of a strategy to increase industrial output. He also said municipal bodies should cease being the sole providers of housing services and get small private businesses involved in that sector. Minnikhanov also emphasized the "enormous potential" of local agricultural companies, which was seconded by Agriculture Minister Reshit Ekhmetov, who said that the region could double its industrial produce.

Roundtable Discusses Corruption And Social Responsibilities Of Local Businessmen
First Deputy Prime Minister Rawyl Moratov said at a roundtable at the Tatar president's Institute of State Service on 7 April dedicated to the social responsibilities of businesses and anticorruption polices that people often face "local monopolies" when seeking permission to connect to engineering systems, such as water supplies. He said in such cases it is often easier for a businessman to circumvent the system by bribing an official than to lose months of time obtaining the necessary documentation.

However, Moratov also indicated that businesspeople also neglect their employees' interests by using illegal methods of paying salaries that result in losses of 5 billion rubles ($175 million) to the state budget annually and denies employees decent pensions in future.

Trade Unions Warn Of Possible Protest Actions Against Rent Increases...
Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva said on 7 April after meeting with Tatyana Vodopyanova, the leader of Tatarstan's Trade Unions Federation, that there is no need for the unions to hold protests over rent increases because the Cabinet and the Kazan city government are prepared to discuss the issue, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 8 April. Vodopyanova had said at a meeting of the republican social- and labor-relations commission on 7 April that the unions were preparing to protest against the recent 20 percent rent hike imposed by Kazan's mayor. Welieva said on behalf of Tatarstan's government that "this is a matter to be first thoroughly studied by the [government's] economists, rather than on the street."

...As Cabinet Reports That Quality Of Life Is Improving
Deputy Prime Minister Welieva also said on 7 April that back wages in the republic total just one-fifth their amount in early 2003, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 8 April. During 2003 the monthly incomes of Tatarstan's population reportedly rose by 90 percent, reaching 5,863 rubles ($205.7) per capita, but inflation and rent increases cut real income levels by 13 percent. The average monthly wage for employees of Tatarstan's industries and enterprises, including small private ventures, was reported at 4,534 rubles ($160) per month.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

New Bashkir Election Commission To Be Formed By 15 June
The Russian Central Election Commission (TsIK) extended the term of the formation of the new Bashkir Central Election Commission (USK) until 15 June, RosBalt reported on 7 April. The TsIK sent a similar recommendation to the Bashkir parliament, saying it is currently dealing with reports connected to the Russian presidential elections and cannot supervise the formation of the Bashkir USK. The term of the previous USK expired on 4 April. Under the republican Electoral Code and the federal election law, the new commission is elected for four years. Half of its vacancies will be filled by representatives of parties and election blocs, while the other half will be proposed by local self-government bodies, the previous USK, and the TsIK, which will nominate two USK members. According to the republican code, the USK will comprise 12 members with voting rights.

New Tuimazy Administration Head Introduced
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov held a meeting with heads of companies and local elected bodies' deputies in Tuimazy where he introduced new Tuimazy administration head Reshit Kheirullin, Bashinform reported on 7 April. According to a Bashkir presidential decree Baidavletov announced at the meeting, Kheirullin's predecessor Rim Khemzin was fired from the post for improper implementation of his duties. This came in the wake of an audit held by Bashkortostan's Audit Chamber of the course of privatization and use of state property at Tuimazy city and raion companies that revealed inefficient privatization. Meanwhile, some experts say that Khemzin's support for former LUKoil executive Relif Safin in the December presidential elections is behind his dismissal (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 7 April 2004). Kheirullin headed the Oktyabrskii raw-material base of Bashneft's subsidiary Bashneftesnab.

Tatar Activist Says Days Of Bashkortostan's Tatars In Tatarstan Should Not Be Political Event
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 7 April, deputy head of the organizing committee of the Days of Bashkortostan's Tatars in Tatarstan Alik Loqmanov opposed the proposal made by some Bashkortostan Tatar leaders that it should become a political event. Loqmanov said a group of singers, writers, composers, and artists will take part, and if it becomes a political action, Bashkir authorities will create obstacles for the event and people will not attend in fear of persecution. Loqmanov suggested that political events aiming to raise issues can be organized in advance of the event.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova