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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 20, 2004


20 August 2004
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Federal Government Reform Reaches Tatarstan
As a result of federal government reforms, the Tatar branches of federal entities recently received instructions to restructure their organizations, which will create numerous vacancies for state officials, "Vechernyaya Kazan" wrote on 20 August. As an example, the daily cited the main federal department of natural resources and protection of environment in Tatarstan, which will be transformed into state timber, mineral resources, and water and control agencies, each with its own director. Unlike previously used appointment procedures in local offices of federal organizations, the candidacies for high posts in the new federal agencies will not have to be approved by the republican authorities.

Shaimiev Promotes Benefits Reform
President Mintimer Shaimiev visited the Tukay and Alabuga regions of Tatarstan on 19 August to inspect the ongoing harvest season and the operation of local agricultural industries, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 20 August. Meeting with farmers of the Tukay region, Shaimiev said that in his opinion the current reform for of transforming most in-kind social benefits to cash payments "will bring benefits to war veterans and those who have retired." He said that republican laws on the reform will ensure social security "for all categories of the elderly." Shaimiev said cash compensations to war veterans and those disabled in combat actions will come from the federal budget, while the largest category of recipients -- former labor camp detainees and families of victims of political repression -- will receive subsidies from the republican budget. Later the same day in Chally, Shaimiev admitted that urban residents will find it difficult "to match their expenses with the amount of social compensation, but rural residents will definitely benefit from the transition."

Gazprom Agrees To Support Tatarstan's Alternative-Fuel Program
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and the acting chairman of Gazprom met on 18 August to discuss the further development of gas networks in Tatarstan, as well the implementation of a joint program to use natural gas as an automotive fuel, Intertat reported. According to an agreement reached at the meeting, Gazprom will assist Tatarstan in increasing the types of fuels available at gas stations in the republic.

Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, And Udmurtia Prepare To Increase Level Of Tuben Kama Reservoir
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, his Bashkir counterpart Rafael Baydavletov, and Udmurtia's Prime Minister Yurii Pitkevich met in Aktanish, Tatarstan on 19 August to discuss the joint management of the Tuben Kama water reservoir, which affects water basins and vast territories in Tatarstan as well as neighboring regions, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 20 August. The sides agreed to maintain the reservoir's water level at 63.3 meters, which was first introduced in 2003 to increasing the output of the Tuben Kama hydropower station. Forty percent of the additional revenues are to used for technical maintenance of the hydropower plant, while the rest is to be divided equally among the three republics. During the meeting, Baydavletov voiced his discontent with the decrease of extra revenues from 50 million rubles ($1.7 million) earned in 2003 to this year's 42 million ($1.4 million).

In the future, the sides reportedly plan to increase the reservoir's water level to 68 meters, something that would give the power plant 738 megawatts of additional electrical output.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Bashkortostan's Unified Russia To Promote Benefits Reform
Mansur Ayupov, secretary of the political council of the pro-governmental Unified Russia party in Bashkortostan, warned the 19 August meeting of the council of the possible fallout that could result from the government's failure to consult with public "when introducing the current social reform for monetizing the system of social benefits, which affects some 50 million of Russia's citizens, representing one-third of population," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 August. Ayupov said that to avoid misunderstandings of the reform and some possible public protests, the party's activists should meet with the people and organize media coverage for promoting the reform. An estimated 1.02 million people receive social security subsidies in Bashkortostan.

Rakhimov Outlines Proposal To Attract Students To Technical-Based Education
Speaking at a governmental meeting devoted to public education in Bashkortostan, President Murtaza Rakhimov offered a proposal to reduce the percentage of university students studying humanities and increasing the number of those studying in production-oriented fields. He suggest that those studying humanities be required to refund state money spent on their education in the event they fail to gain employment in their field, REGNUM reported on 19 August.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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