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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 7, 2004


7 October 2004
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Speaker Comments On Tatar-Language Hearings In Constitutional Court
Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin held a press conference in Kazan on 6 October to comment on an ongoing hearing in Russia's Constitutional Court on two appeals concerning the status of Tatar, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. One of the appeals was initiated by Tatar resident Sergei Khapugin, who contested the mandatory studying of Tatar at a level equal to that of Russian by all students in Tatar secondary schools. Khapugin argued that "the forcible studying of non-native culture, including language, could lead to tension in interethnic relations."

In the second appeal, the Tatar State Council defended the republic's right to regulate the language issue on its own (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 October 2004). Mukhametshin said he asked the court to consider the two appeals separately but the court rejected his request. The speaker also said he told the court that 75 percent of the coursework included in secondary schools' curriculum is reserved for subjects mandated by the federal government, and only 10 percent is reserved for regional topics, the content of which is determined by federation subjects. Tatarstan, he said, follows these guidelines in teaching Tatar as a state language. He also said representatives of the Federal Assembly and the Russian president present at the hearing "did not find any violation regarding this."

As regards the second appeal, Mukhametshin predicted that "taking into account the discussion, the court verdict may be issued in favor of the federal law." Mukhametshin refused to specify Tatarstan's possible future steps in this respect, saying he is already often accused of trying to "pressure the Constitutional Court through the mass media."

Tatarstan Negotiating $40 Million Helicopter Deal With Venezuela
Venezuela Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said on 5 October in Moscow that his country plans to purchase from Russia a large consignment of Mi-17 helicopters for use "in guarding borders, fighting fires, and for social needs," "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 6 October. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez had said that the contract is worth $40 million. Russia's Rosoboroneksport and the Kazan Helicopter Plant (KVZ) confirmed on 5 October that they are negotiating the deal. An unidentified source at KVZ told the daily that deliveries of up to 20 aircraft are expected.

KVZ is one of Russia's leading producers of Mi-8/Mi-17 helicopters. It previously delivered 16 similar aircraft to Colombia.

Tatarstan Residents To Take Full Brunt Of Increased Housing, Municipal Expenses
Tatarstan's minister of construction, architecture, and housing and municipal services, Marat Khosnullin, told a briefing of the Cabinet of Ministers on 5 October that housing costs for the republic's residents are expected to rise in 2005 by 40 to 100 percent, intertat.ru and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 5 and 6 October. The additional expenses will result from residents paying all of their housing and municipal-services expenses. This system will allow the government to avoid sinking 350 million rubles ($12 million) in federal subsidies into covering the costs.

The republic's residents currently pay between 41 percent (in Yugary Oslan Raion) and 90 percent (in Kazan) of housing and municipal-services costs. The republican budget currently pays 1.37 billion rubles in subsidies to needy families in which incomes total less than 2,000 rubles per family member.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Bashkortostan Development Strategy Proposed
A proposed long-term strategy for Bashkortostan's socioeconomic development to 2015 was presented on 6 October in Ufa, Bashinform reported the same day. The plan, developed by a group of scholars representing the Bashkir Academy of State Service and Management, Bashkortostan's Academy of Sciences, and republican universities, predicts a reduction of the share of the fuel-and-energy sector in the gross regional product (GRP) from 35.6 percent in 2002 to 11.8 percent in 2015. In the mean time, they predict the share of the machine-building and metal-working industry in GRP will grow from 17.3 percent in 2002 to 34.2 percent in 2015. According to the proposal, the fall in oil production should be compensated by an increase in production in the machine-building sector, which grew in 2001 by 26 percent, in 2002 by 21 percent, and in 2003 by 20 percent. Bashkir National Bank Chairman Rostem Mergenov, however, said it is unclear what resources would allow the implementation of this strategy, as the mechanisms proposed by the authors are insufficient to achieve the planned growth. He said one of the mechanisms capable of spurring economic development is increasing the competitiveness of the banking sector.

First Bashkir Bank Joins Deposit-Insurance System
On 6 October, the Russian Central Bank's Bank Supervision Committee accepted Sotsinvestbank into the new system of deposit insurance for individual accounts, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 7 October. Sotsinvestbank is the first bank in Bashkortostan to join, while another 12 republican banks seek to join. In all of Russia, 1,137 banks have applied to the Central Bank to join the system and 64 have been accepted. Sotsinvestbank is the second major bank in Bashkortostan after UralSib. Over 98,000 people in the republic have accounts in the bank. In the first nine months of this year, its assets increased by 25 percent to 4.3 billion rubles ($147.2 million).

Interior Ministry Arrests Traffickers In Illegal Gems
A large consignment of unprocessed precious stones worth 2 million rubles has been seized by the Bashkir Interior Ministry, RIA-Novosti-Privolzhe reported on 5 October. Two people were detained in an Ufa hotel where they brought emeralds and alexandrites from Sverdlovsk Oblast. The head of the Bashkir Interior Ministry's organized-crime department, Radik Gylajev, told the news agency that the group has been under investigation for a year and two days after the Ufa operation, four other members of the group were detained in Asbest, Sverdlovsk Oblast. In an apartment of one of them, another consignment of precious stones worth $30,000 was seized. The stones were produced at a mine near Malyshevo, Sverdlovsk Oblast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
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