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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 25, 2003

25 December 2003
Tatar Constitutional Court Backs Introduction Of Tatar Latin Alphabet
The Tatar Constitutional Court issued a ruling according to which determining a script used in the Tatar alphabet is Tatarstan�s power, Tatar-inform reported on 24 December. The court was considering an appeal by the State Council Commission on Science, Education, Culture, and National Issues to explain whether introduction of the Latin Tatar alphabet corresponds to the republican constitution. This right is a part of a constitutional right of Russia�s republics to determine their state languages and is one of elements of Tatarstan�s state legal status, according to the court. It can be abolished only as result of agreement between Tatarstan and Russia. In September 1999, the Tatar parliament adopted a law on restoration of the Latin Tatar script, while a year ago, the State Duma passed a law under which using a Cyrillic script is mandatory for all state languages in Russia (see �RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report,� 18 November and 12 December 2002). According to the Russian Constitution, republics are empowered to establish their state languages used in state authority and local self-government bodies, in mass media outlets, and in the cultural sphere alongside the state language of Russia. The Tatar Constitutional Court�s ruling is final, cannot be appealed and comes into effect immediately. Following the hearing, Commission on Science, Education, Culture, and National Issues Chairman Razil Weliev told reporters that the commission will initiate discussing the issue at the next State Council session, then appeal to the Russian Constitutional Court and, if necessary, to the International Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. He said the Cyrillic-only amendment to the federal law on languages of the peoples of Russia contradicts not only numerous articles of the Russian Constitution but numerous international pacts and Russia�s international treaties.

Ukraine Blocks Tatarstan�s Initiative To Hold Additional Emission Of Ukrtatnafta Shares
The Tatar government and Tatneft failed to secure adoption of a decision on additional emission of $200 million worth of Ukrtatnafta shares as an Ukrtatnafta shareholders meeting that was scheduled to pass such a decision on 24 December was blocked at the initiative of an Ukrtatnafta minority shareholder, �Vedomosti� reported on 25 December. Tatarstan�s authorities gave up on the idea of additional emission and plan now to initiate issuing $70 million worth of Ukrtatnafta bonds. Tatarstan owns 56 percent in Ukrtatnafta, a joint Tatar-Ukrainian venture that controls the Kremenchug oil refinery, while 43 percent belongs to the Ukraine�s State Property Fund (FGI). Ukrtatnafta�s capital totals $140 million. FGI torpedoed additional emission and boycotted the 24 December shareholders meeting. �Vedomosti� quoted Tatar First Deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov as saying majority shareholders will not further insist on additional emission and will instead promote issuing bonds. Meanwhile, the daily speculated that the conflict between Ukrtatnafta shareholders will likely continue as Ukrainian authorities seek to sell their stake in Ukrtatnafta in an open auction while legislation prohibits this. In September, the Ukraine�s Supreme Rada passed in the first reading a draft law providing exception for Ukrtatnafta. FGI hopes that it will be able to sell its stake in an open auction for at least $100 million.

Energy Tariffs Up
Electric energy and heating tariffs will be increased by 20 percent as of 1 January, according to the decision passed by the Tatarstan�s Republican Energy Commission, reported on 23 December. The prices will increase by 16 percent for republics residents, by 20 percent for state budget organizations, and by 30 percent for other consumers. Thus, residents will pay 85 kopecks instead of 73 kopecks per a kilowatt/hour of energy, while in Nizhnii Novgorod it costs 99.8 kopecks and in Samara 1.02 rubles. Price of a gigacalorie of heating will increase from 125 rubles to 143 rubles, while in Nizhnii Novgorod it costs 290 rubles and in Samara 289 rubes.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov�s Role Compared To That Of Bashkir Constitution?
Emirkhan Samirkhanov, Bashkortostan�s Trade Unions Federation chairman speaking at the meeting of State Assembly dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Bashkir Constitution on 23 December that the fundamental law represented �a step forward in social security matters� by granting his organization a right of legislative initiative for proposing labor-related laws and allowed to pass the law of his organization�s activities, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the next day. Samirkhanov also emphasized that social policy matters �always have been a priority� for Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, something that was said to be expressed in low interest housing loans for young families and operation of state-funded summer camps for children.

FSB Seizes A Large Shipment Of Drugs
Bashkortostan�s branch of Federal Security Service (FSB) seized 25 kilograms of marijuana on 23 December, transported thought the republic�s territory from one of the Central Asian countries to the Ural-Volga area, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the next day. The catch reportedly has a market price of $25,000, while as much as $4.8 million worth of drugs have been confiscated on the republic�s territory so far in 2003.

Bashkortostan Praised For Low Corruption Figures
According to a research published by ITAR-TASS Ural on 23 December, Bashkortotan Republic has the least corrupted system of government among 40 Russia�s regions included into 102 country survey. According to the nation-wide average corruption rate Russia was rated 74th, while Finland, Denmark New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, Canada, Luxembourg and Netherlands led the list.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi