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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 4, 2003

4 June 2003
UNESCO Director-General Completes Visit To Kazan
Before his departure from Kazan on 3 June, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura told reporters that he was satisfied with the outcome of his two-day visit to Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. He confirmed that UNESCO will undertake joint preparations for the Kazan millennium-anniversary celebrations in 2005. Matsuura said that he became "good friends" with President Mintimer Shaimiev. Matsuura noted, however, that "there is a lot of work to be done with preparing the inclusion of the historical architecture of Sviyazhsk to the UNESCO World Heritage List, but what I have seen there is very interesting." Besides the buildings of Orthodox Christian monastery on Sviyazhsk Island, Tatarstan nominated the remains of the ancient Bolgar city for including to the list.

Three Republics Resume Preparations For Increasing The Water Level At Tuben Kama
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, his Bashkir counterpart Rafael Baydavletov, and Urdmurtiya's Prime Minister Yurii Pitkevich met in Chally and signed an agreement on maintaining the level at Tuben Kama water reserve at 63.3 meters, precisely the same as it has been, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported on 4 June. The signing procedure followed a trilateral conference focusing on the economic efficiency and environmental safety of the possible increase of the water level, which would increase the output of the Tuben Kama hydroelectric plant in Chally. The sides are currently estimating the possible consequences of the increase and calculating the compensation payments for lands and inhabited locations which would be flooded as a result.

Minnikhanov said during the conference that the current surplus in the hydroelectric plant's budget will be used for maintaining, repairing, and developing technical facilities against flooding to be caused by the water level increase.

One Of Top Managers At KamAZ Missing...
KamAZ Deputy General Director in charge of metallurgy Viktor Faber has been missing since 27 May, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 4 June, citing local media. Four days before Faber disappeared, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily published an article referring to the results of an inspection by the Control and Revision Board of the republican Finance Ministry, which revealed that one of the KamAZ metallurgy plants had signed a contract with the German Profuna company, causing losses of some $1 million. According to the investigators, cited by "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 3 June, this article could have led to Faber's disappearance. The paper noted, however, that the chances of such allegations being true were low, "because of Faber's reputation as an 'unsinkable' manager...and his being such a well-known person."

...As Firm Plans Launch Of Assembly Line In Ukraine
Meanwhile, the KamAZ representation in Ukraine is preparing to launch a heavy-truck assembly line at Kievskii Auto Repair Plant, Tatarinform reported on 3 June. The potential demand for KamAZ trucks in that country is estimated at 1,000-1,500 vehicles per year, while only 540 of them were sold there in 2002.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tatar National Front To Participate In Presidential Elections, Opposes Official Census Figures In Bashkortostan
The Tatar National Front (TMF) established by the Congress of Tatar public organizations in Bashkortostan on 1 June "will...propose its own candidate for the December elections for Bashkortostan's president or will support an alternative candidate if he is not offered by the present President [Murtaza] Rakhimov," TMF leader Zagyr Khekimov told "Gazeta" in an interview published on 3 June. Khekimov explained the front's initiative to hold an alternative census in Bashkortostan because during the October 2002 census the republican State Statistics Committee "increased the share of the Bashkir population to one-third of the total by registering part of the Tatar population as Bashkirs." He said: "Many Tatars were forced to register as Bashkirs under the threat of their children not being able to enter universities" or of their careers being sandbagged.

Vladimir Zorin, Russian minister for ethnic policies and affairs, told the paper that no census information on the country's ethnic groups was yet available and there are no mechanisms for filing legal appeals against violations during a census, which has already taken place. Nevertheless, he admitted that "a sociological investigation may be held after the census data is published."

Local Press Beaten Out By Subscriptions To Moscow Publications
Ufa residents currently receive more than 243,000 copies of newspapers and magazines by subscription each day, Bashinform reported on 3 June. Some 100,000 copies of republican editions and 153,000 copies of Moscow-based publications are distributed via mail in the Bashkir capital, and the print runs of nationwide newspapers and magazines are continuing to gain subscribers faster than local editions, Bashinform reported.

Bashkir Election Code To Be Adjusted To Federal Law
Bashkortostan's Elections Code will be adjusted to the new federal law on the general principles of organization in the legislative and executive state bodies in Russian entities, Rosbalt reported on 3 June. Instead of the previous system of electing one parliamentary deputy from each of the voting districts, half of the deputies will be elected by party lists.

Government Working On 2004 Budget
President Murtaza Rakhimov signed a decree on 3 June ordering his government to prepare next year's budget by 25 September, Rosbalt reported yesterday. In addition, he requested the cabinet to hold negotiations with the Russian Finance Ministry on the further funding of the federal program for Bashkortostan's social and economic development through 2006.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi