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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 28, 2003

28 March 2003
Transnefteprodukt Preparing To Begin Building Pipeline In Tatarstan
Transnefteprodukt President Sergei Maslov said planning documentation for building the Subkhankulovo-Elmet oil pipeline will be prepared by late April, while construction work on the project will start in May, reported on 27 March. Maslov held a meeting in Tatarstan of a working group that was set up following the agreement on the construction of an oil pipeline to link Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, which was signed by Maslov and Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 18 November. The 166-kilometer-long pipeline is to connect Transnefteprodukt's "upper" pipeline passing through Tatarstan, Nizhnii Novgorod, Ryazan, and Moscow with the "lower" one linking Omsk, Ufa, and Samara. Transnefteprodukt will cover all expenses of the $215.5 million project. The pipeline will allow Transnefteprodukt to increase the volume of transported oil and oil products, currently 25 billion tons, by 8 million tons a year.

Tatarstan Sells Grain, Plans To Reduce Grain Crops
Tatar Deputy Agriculture Minister Takhir Khadiev said Tatarstan has exported some 500,000 tons of grain this year, or 10 percent of the 2002 harvest, Tatar-inform reported on 27 March. Of the total, 270,000 tons worth 446 million rubles ($14 million) were sold to the Russian government, and another 140,000 tons were exported to 10 foreign countries. Khadiev said Tatarstan is the leading grain exporter in the Volga Federal District. He also said the republic will reduce the area planted with grain this year because of low grain prices.

Businessmen Still Dissatisfied With Bureaucratic Procedures
Tatar First Deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov said on 27 March the number of small businesses increased in 2002 by 10 percent to 18,000 and another 177,000 persons are involved in individual businesses, reported the same day. Moratov delivered a report on implementation of the State Program on the Development of Small Businesses at a meeting of the State Council Commission on Economic Development and Reforms. The sum of credits allocated for small businesses increased in 2002 by 14.5 percent to 16.6 billion rubles ($529 million) in comparison with the previous year.

Moratov also cited a survey by the Tatar State Statistics Committee among small-business representatives, according to which 71 percent of those questioned said the procedure of filing with tax bodies was not simplified despite governmental efforts to reform it. Some 23 percent of respondents said their businesses were checked or audited by audit or license bodies from five to 10 times in the past six months, while 65 percent said they faced less then five such cases.

Assailants Against TIU In Chally Punished
The Chally city court on 27 March found guilty all five men accused of assaulting the Tatar Public Center's (TIU) Chally office, reported the same day. The five were sentenced to between 6 1/2 and four years in prison. The court convicted them of hooliganism but dropped charges of of causing serious bodily harm, arguing that the investigation did not provide evidence of which of them actually beat the victims. Defense lawyers told reporters following the trial that their clients were not proven guilty and they will appeal. Relatives who represented victims at the trial also said they are not satisfied with the verdict since the real organizers of the assault against the TIU office went unpunished.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Unified Russia Wins Overwhelming Majority In Bashkir Parliament
In announcing the results of the 16 March State Assembly election, the chairman of the Bashkir Central Election Commission, Bariy Kinzyagulov, said on 27 March that candidates from Unified Russia won 89 of the 120 seats in the Bashkir parliament, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The Communist Party managed to win only three seats, while the Union of Rightist Forces and the Agrarian Party won two seats each. Yabloko and the People's Party won only one seat each. The commission chairman said that 1.5 million people, or 57.3 percent of eligible voters, turned out to vote, while 8.18 percent cast their votes against all candidates. More than 5,600 observers monitored the election at 3,400 polling stations.

Bashkir Companies In Debt To Electricity Provider
Bashkir companies currently owe the republic's electricity provider, Bashkirenergo, some 5.7 billion rubles ($180 million) for electricity provided, and that figure is growing, RosBalt reported on 27 March. Eighty percent of the debt belongs to companies in the housing sector, while the remaining 20 percent belongs to the agricultural sector.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi