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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 24, 2003

24 March 2003
Unified Russia Calls For Delay In Reform Of Teachers' Wages
The leader of the Russian Regions faction in the State Duma and member of the Unified Russia General Council presidium, Oleg Morozov, voiced opposition to the idea of immediate reform of the system of payment to state employees, reported on 22 March. Morozov, speaking in Kazan at a national teachers' meeting involving representatives from 36 Russian regions, said that the system should not be maintained in its existing form, but the planned reform does not guarantee teachers' salaries will increase. Russian First Deputy Education Minister Viktor Bolotov, who also attended the event, said it is not expedient to reform the existing scale of payment to state employees, including teachers, until social guarantees are introduced for them.

KamAZ Ready To Continue Deliveries Of Trucks To Iraq After War Is Over
KamAZ stopped deliveries of trucks to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities following the beginning of military actions in the country, reported on 21 March. The KamAZ deputy general director in charge of sales, Anatolii Samarenkin, told the news agency that the company has sent 100 trucks to Iraq in 2003 as well as spare parts worth $300 million. The previous year, exports to Iraq increased fourfold to 2,500 in comparison with 2001. KamAZ signed a contract with the Iraqi Transport Ministry on delivery of 3,000 trucks in 2003. KamAZ will fulfill its obligations if the contract remains in force when the war is over, Samarenkin said.

Communications Companies Overcome Controversies
Tatar Deputy Communications Minister Oleg Natanson told reporters on 21 March that a conflict between the TAIF-Telkom cellular communications company and its competitors in the region -- including BeeLine, SMARTS, and MegaFon -- will likely be settled soon in favor of the three companies, Prime-TASS reported the same day. The disagreements arose in February when TAIF-Telkom blocked connections between its subscribers and those of other providers, demanding that the companies, which entered the Tatar market later than TAIF-Telkom, contribute to its refurbishment. Natanson said TAIF-Telkom violated Russian legislation, which demands that each cellular communications company provides any possible service for its subscribers. Earlier this week, connections between companies were unblocked but were to be paid as intercity calls. At a meeting in the Communications Ministry devoted to the issue on 21 March, all companies agreed to participate in refurbishing the TAIF-Telkom network.

Tatar Group Calls For Boycott Of Anti-Iraq Coalition Countries
The St. Petersburg Tatar group Tatarstan on 21 March called for a boycott of goods produced in the countries that "support the war against Muslims and are taking part in this unfair war," reported the same day. The group distributed leaflets among Muslims and will also distribute them at all events organized by the group, the group's president, Rinat Weliev, told the news agency.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Muslim Leaders Bewildered By Arab Countries' Support Of War
Eyup Bibarsov, deputy chairman of Bashkortostan's Muslim Religious Board, told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 23 March that besides its deep regret about ongoing developments in Iraq, the republic's Muslim leadership was "especially distressed by the fact that Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates support the U.S.-led campaign."

Bashkir Airlines Employees Asks Moscow To Replace Company's Management
Bashkir Airlines (BAL) employees unions appealed to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Bashkir Property Minister Ferit Gazizullin, and Bashkir First Deputy Transport Minister Aleksandr Neradko on 22 March asking to dismiss the airline's top management, Rosbalt reported the same day.

Union members blame the BAL directors for the company's current critical financial situation. In 2002 the airline suffered more than 77 million rubles ($2.4 million) in losses, twice as much as the year before. The workers also said that BAL management is trying to cover the losses by selling its aircraft and reducing staff. In their appeal to the federal government, which took over BAL in 2002, the employees also called for an independent audit of the company's financial situation.

Moscow Court Rejects Suit Against Government Motorcades
Moscow's Presnenkii district court refused to hear the case by Ufa resident Yevgenii Kareev, who intends to sue the Russian government for blocking the streets to let the governmental motorcades pass through, RosBalt reported on 22 March.

The judge wrote in a letter to Kareev that current federal legislation did not stipulate his right to come out representing the interests of an "indefinite group of people." Kareev had argued that such a right was given to him under Articles 4 and 6 of the Civil Code, adding that if necessary he would take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

In February, Kareev sued the Bashkir government in Ufa's Kirov district court for limiting his right of free movement by blocking the streets for VIP motorcades (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 6 February 2003).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi