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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 4, 2003

4 March 2003
Salary Statistics Announced
Tatar Labor Minister Boris Zakharov said at his ministry's annual meeting on 3 March that only 5 percent of Tatarstan's population lived in financial comfort. According to the chairwoman of the Tatar Federation of Trade Unions, Tatyana Vodopyanova, speaking at the same meeting, the average monthly income of Tatar residents in 2002 was 15 percent below the minimum subsistence level. It was also announced at the meeting that the average monthly salary in Tatarstan's agricultural sector in 2002 was 1,700 rubles ($54), while that of workers in the financial and insurance sectors was 8,700 rubles. State-employed workers in the medical, education, and cultural sectors -- some 300,000 employees, or 16.5 percent of the republic's working-age population -- earned on average 2,600 rubles per month last year, which was 33 percent less than the overall average wage in the republic in 2002. Zakharov said that the government plans to increase the average monthly salary in the republic to 4,650 rubles this year.

Trial Of Alleged TIU Attackers Continues
A Chally city court resumed on 3 March the trial of five individuals accused of carrying out an attack on members of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally in May of last year (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 and 31 May 2002 and 27 February 2003), RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported the same day. During the 3 March session, the TIU's secretary, Alsu Sabirova, who was one of the victims of the attack, was unable to positively identify the five defendants as the assailants, saying that "a lot of time had already passed [since the incident]." During a preliminary investigation, however, Sabirova had identified two of the defendants -- Georgii Gorbachev and Lenar Bekhtierov -- as being two of the attackers.

Tatneft Invited To Take Part In Primorsk Project
Leningrad Oblast Deputy Governor Grigorii Dvas has announced that Tatneft has been invited to take part in the construction of an oil refinery at Primorsk, "Finansovye izvestiya" reported on 3 March. Tatneft is expected to take the place of Surgutneftegaz in joining Rosneft and the Leningrad Oblast administration in the project. Rosneft's Dmitrii Panteleev told the daily that his company was not satisfied with Surgutneftegaz's inability to promote the project, but he refused to comment on Tatneft's possible participation.

Tax Ministry Seizes KamAZ Property
The Russian Tax Ministry has seized property worth 2.2 billion rubles from the KamAZ automotive concern as compensation for unpaid social taxes dating back several years, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 3 March, citing the head of the Tatar branch of the ministry, Rinat Khairov. Khairov noted that KamAZ is currently restructuring its debts to the federal government and lacks sufficient liquid assets to pay the taxes owed.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Meets With Duma Communist Deputies...
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met on 3 March with a visiting group of State Duma Communist Party deputies, including Viktor Zorkaltsev, Sergei Glazev, Valentin Shurchanov, and Vitalii Sevastyanov, and agro-industrial group member Valentin Nikitin, the presidential press service reported the same day. Rakhimov told the visitors about the economic and social development of the republic. Commenting on the electoral campaign for the State Assembly and local self-government bodies, Rakhimov criticized the "destructive and unfair publications of some reporters and outlets" and the use of "black" campaign methods. The deputies praised the good opportunities for investment and economic development of the republic and the successes in the oil-production and -processing, chemical, machine-building, and agro-industrial sectors. The Duma representatives noted the importance of maintaining a leading role for the state in the development of the republic.

...Reaches Common Viewpoint On Issue Of Bashkir Petrochemical Complex
State Duma Economic Policy and Business Committee Chairman Sergei Glazev told reporters on 3 March in Ufa that the Duma's Communist Party faction and President Rakhimov have "a common position" on the issue of maintaining state control over Bashkortostan's petrochemical complex, RosBalt reported the same day. Glazev said, "It would be unpardonable to give up such a super-profitable industry like petrochemicals into private ownership," and "the possibilities of boosting production and income from Bashkortostan's petrochemical branch...should not be lost."

He added that there are examples where following the loss of control over property, regions lost the property itself. Glazev referred to the fate of the Krasnoyarsk Krai mining industry, where firms are now registered abroad, while local consumers are forced to buy coal mined in the krai in Moscow or in off-shore zones. He said maintaining control over the oil sector is in Bashkortostan's interests, since this is the only guarantee that the income from the petrochemical sector will belong to the republic. He criticized the practice whereby more than half of Russian oil is exported through Moscow and brings revenue to Moscow, so it looks like Moscow produces more oil than Tyumen. Glazev added that the Communists demand that income from production located in regions be left in those regions, while tax revenues be divided between regions and Moscow equally.

Bashkir Communists Report Electoral Violations...
Bashkortostan's Communist Party leader Valentin Nikitin said honest and clean elections can be guaranteed only by signing correspondent agreements between leaders of parties and administrations of the Russian president, heads of republics, and governors, RosBalt reported on 1 March. Nikitin's comment came in response to a proposal by the head of the Russian Fund for Free Elections, Andrei Przhezdomskii, to establish in Bashkortostan an affiliate of the fund (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 March 2003).

He said that although he agreed to sign a treaty between party leaders and the fund, this does not guarantee the elections will be honest, and even opening the fund's office will not provide such a guarantee. "Major violations during elections don't come from representatives of parties but from state authority bodies -- the administrations of the Russian president, heads of republics, and governors."

Nikitin said he informed Przhezdomskii about election violations in Bashkorostan, including the use of administrative levers. He added that "the heads of city and raion administrations campaign for certain candidates included in 'a presidential list'" and promise favors in exchange for votes. Nikitin also said, "The Bashkir Central Electoral Commission long ago turned into an affiliate of the republican presidential administration and does not take steps to secure equality of candidates in elections."

...Intends To Present Candidate For Bashkir Presidency
Nikitin told reporters on 3 March that the local Communists plan to put forward their candidate for Bashkir president in this year's elections, RosBalt reported the same day. Nikitin said the candidate will be introduced at the party's republican conference following the announcement of the date of the presidential elections. The date of elections is to be set in early April. The current term of incumbent President Rakhimov expires in June.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova