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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 4, 2003

4 February 2003
State-Owned, Private Airlines Planning To Merge
Magomed Zakarzhaev, general director of the republic's main airline, the state-owned Tatarstan Airlines, told a press conference on 3 February that his company is considering the possibility of merging with the privately owned Tulpar Airlines in order to meet the strict new requirements of the Russian Transport Ministry regarding the size of domestic carriers, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 4 February. The two companies are reportedly carrying out negotiations on the distribution of shares following the proposed merger.

Azat Khekim, the chairman of the board of Tulpar Airlines, told the same press conference that his company has decided this year to lease two Boeing 737 medium-range airliners, which, he said, are more expensive than Kazan-produced Tupolev 214s but that the company likes the ease of maintaining the U.S.-made aircraft. Tulpar, Tatarstan's first private airline, was established in 1992 and currently owns a fleet of 18 Yak-40s and Yak-42s that it uses for passenger and cargo flights within Russia and Pakistan.

Tatenergo Looking To Reduce Expenses
Tatenergo hopes to reduce its costs of producing heat and electricity by 1 percent through a special program for loss management in 2003, the company's press service announced on 3 February. Part of the plan involves introducing measures for economizing on fuel usage. Later in the year, the company plans to lay off 1,500 workers by closing its maintenance and construction ventures in the Zey, Bogeleme, and Tuben Kama regions of the republic. Tatenergo plans to replace its permanent staff at these locations with contractual workers in an effort to reduce expenses even further.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Human Rights Activist To Sue Authorities For Blocking Traffic
Ufa human rights activist Yevgenii Kareev filed suit on 3 February in Ufa's Kirov Raion court against the Bashkir Cabinet of Ministers for violating citizens' right of freedom of movement, guaranteed by Article 27 of the Russian Constitution, and the principle of all citizens' equality before the law, provided by Article 19, RosBalt reported the same day. Kareev is protesting the general practice of blocking road traffic for high-ranking officials' motorcades. Kareev told the news agency that the right of Ufa residents to freedom of movement was violated for the last time on 24 January when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited the Bashkir capital. After he failed to get to his place of work that day, Kareev appealed to the city's State Road Traffic Security Inspectorate and was informed that the government gave no written instructions and only verbally ordered streets to be blocked in Ufa, something that violates the law, he said.

ARB Department To Be Established In Ufa
Russian Banks Association (ARB) Chairman Garegin Tosunyan met with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov on 3 February in Ufa to inform him about the activity of the association, which unites some 500 credit organizations from 25 federation entities and promotes the interests of the banking system and corresponding legislation, Bashinform and RosBalt reported the same day. Tosunyan said that to meet its aims, ARB needs to increase the number of represented subjects to 30-40 and suggested that an ARB branch be established in Bashkortostan. President Rakhimov backed the proposal, saying it conforms with the concept of the republic's economic development.

Following the meeting with Rakhimov, Tosunyan told journalists that Bashkortostan's banking system has an advantage over other regions because the republican leadership provides support for the sector. The leadership realizes the importance of the banking system and promotes the development of regional banks, he said.

Tosunyan met the same day with heads of the UralSib bank and the Bashkir National Bank and attended a meeting of representatives of Bashkir credit organizations.

Tatar Opposition Leader Joins Federal Party To Promote Tatar Cultural, Educational Needs
The chairman of Bashkortostan's Tatar Milli Mejlis, Marat Ramazanov, was elected a member of the Union of People for Education and Science (SLON) political council at the party's constituent congress in late 2002 in Moscow, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 3 February. Ramazanov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service the same day that the development of national education and science is among the party's aims. Ramazanov said that according to SLON's concept on nationality issues, the funding of ethnic groups' cultural and educational development should depend on the population of that people and the share it provides to the budget. Ramazanov said that this principle should be applied in the first instance to Tatars, Russia's second-largest people, adding that he will promote publishing books in Tatar and broadcast of Tatar radio and television programs throughout the country.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova