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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 5, 2003

5 November 2003
Political Parties Divide Free Air Time On Local Broadcasting Companies
On 4 November, the Central Election Commission distributed free air time for the advertisements and debates of 20 political parties competing for votes in the December Duma elections, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Yanga Gasyr, the state TV company of Tatarstan, gave nine minutes of free air time for advertisements and 10 minutes for each political party during debates. The local branch of the Russian State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company, GTRK Tatarstan, gave each party 7 minutes and 30 seconds of free air time because it uses only a fraction of the daily programming of the radio channels of RTR TV and Voice of Russia. Election-related programs will be broadcast beginning on 7 November, exactly one month before voting takes place.

Republican Budget To Rely Mostly On Residents' Incomes
The share of individual income taxes in Tatarstan's budget revenues will increase from 27 percent to 36 percent in 2004 and total 10.93 billion rubles ($364 million), reported on 4 November. The second major source of the republic's income will come from a profit tax for businesses, making up 24.6 percent of the budget income. According to an unnamed official of the Russian Tax Ministry's branch in Tatarstan, Moscow currently has jurisdiction over excise and natural-resource taxes, which are easy to collect, while the collection of business profit taxes was delegated to Tatarstan. The profit tax is reportedly the hardest to collect due to the constant efforts of local companies to conceal their profits. Individual income taxes are under Tatarstan's jurisdiction.

KamAZ Hopes For Another 3 Percent Of The Market By 2004
After winning 50 percent of Russia's truck market by the end of 2003, the KamAZ auto company will increase its market share from 36 to 39 percent, KamAZ's press service reported on 4 November. Used imported trucks, MAZ trucks from the Minsk automotive plant, and Russia's UralAZ trucks are considered the major competitors of the Chally automotive industry. In order to influence the market, KamAZ promoted the introduction of a higher "Euro-2" pollution standard in Russia and invested $200 million in renovating its production facilities.

Shaimiev Heads To Italy
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev left for Italy with the official delegation of Russian President Vladimir Putin on 4 November, the presidential press service reported. Putin is due to meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President Carlo Ciampi. The Russian delegation is also expected to sign a large package of documents on cooperation at the national and regional levels. Putin is also expected to visit the Vatican and meet with Pope John Paul II.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

European Commission Studies Bashkortostan's Anticorruption Experience
A European Commission delegation arrived on 3 November in Bashkortostan for a three-week visit to study the republic's experiences in anticorruption activity and legislation aimed at fighting corruption, reported on 4 November. In February 2002, the European Commission selected a draft anticorruption plan developed by the Bashkir State Assembly as the best one, and in July 2003 launched a project on improving organization and communication in fighting corruption. The project aims at developing and implementing legal and organizational measures to promote anticorruption policy in the region and exchanging experience in fighting corruption at the regional level.

The first anticorruption law was adopted in Bashkortostan in 1994. The republic is the only region in Russia where such legislation exists. A report to the European Commission containing recommendations on fighting corruption is to be prepared as a result of the visit. The World Bank plans to launch soon in Bashkortostan a project titled "An Island Without Corruption."

New TV Tower To Be Built In Ufa
Bashkortostan's Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Yefremov told a government meeting that a new television tower will be built in Ufa, Interfax reported on 4 November. The TV tower currently operating in Bashkortostan's capital transmits 10 television and six radio channels and has no more capacity for additional transmitting equipment, Yefremov said.

NIKoil Buys 14 Percent Of UralSib
NIKoil financial corporation President Nikolai Tsvetkov and UralSib bank President Azat Qormanaev announced on 31 October that they intend to advance their strategic partnership through step-by-step integration and create conditions for the future merger of the Avtobank-NIKoil and UralSib, "Vedomosti" reported on 3 November. Tsvetkov said at his joint press conference with Qormanaev that NIKoil bought 14 percent of UralSib for $40 million at a special auction, and that the merger procedure may start in 12-14 months.

Qormanaev said the planned merger will not affect plans by foreign investors to purchase a stake in UralSib, adding that the bank is continuing negotiations with the International Financial Corporation on this issue. Qormanaev also said UralSib's shareholders do not mind if Avtobank-NIKoil and UralSib merge. He added that after the evaluation of the two banks is over, expected by January, the issue of the merger will be proposed to shareholders.

Bashkir TsIK Warns Against Election Violations
The Bashkir Central Election Commission (TsIK) appealed on 3 November to state and local authorities and heads of election commissions, calling on them to observe electoral legislation, Bashinform reported. The TsIK noted that "participation of Russian citizens in elections is free and voluntary," adding that "nobody has the right to force a Russian citizen to take part or not to take part in elections or hinder his/her free will." The TsIK called on the authorities to help registered candidates and noted that hindering the exercise of electoral rights and refusing of premises for public meetings are criminal acts. TsIK Chairman Baryi Kinjegulov said that the appeal came in the wake of numerous complaints by candidates against the obstacles they face in their campaigning across the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova