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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 12, 2002


12 February 2002
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Opposition Roundtable Urges Radical Changes In Tatarstan's Government
A roundtable of opposition organizations in Tatarstan announced on 11 February that they assessed the Russian Constitution Court ruling on the Marsel Salyamov's claim regarding some of the articles in Tatarstan's Constitution "ambiguously," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The opposition stated its "indignation" with the fact that the ruling acknowledging violations of federal laws by the Tatar Constitution didn't force the dissolution of the Tatar State Council elected in 1999. The roundtable urged the current State Council to dissolve itself after the new constitution is adopted.

According to the opposition's statement, they demand that Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev hand over a major share of his authority to the new State Council, which is to comprise 50 percent deputies elected according to the party lists, and 50 percent deputies from equal-sized districts of the republic. The roundtable also said that all the mayors and regional administration heads should be elected, while the cabinet is to be appointed by the State Council.

Baptized Tatars Claim Their Rights Are Denied In Tatarstan
The Kryashen (Baptized Tatars) National-Cultural Center of Tatarstan appealed to regions.ru news agency on 11 February complaining that no Kryashen representatives were invited to the meeting on 5 February of Russian governmental envoy to the State Duma Andrei Loginov, experts from the federal Statistics Committee and the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Duma Committee on Nationalities Affairs Chairman Valentin Nikitin, and Duma deputies representing Tatarstan, devoted to the future census. According to strana.ru, Tatar deputies led by of the International Affairs Committee Deputy Chairwoman Flura Ziyatdinova requested that the Russian government should exclude Kryashens from the nationalities list to be used during the poll and register them as Tatars. The Ethnology Institute reportedly insisted that Kryashens were an independent ethnic group, which is targeted by discriminative policies in Tatarstan.

Unnamed members of the Kryashen Center interviewed by regions.ru stated that the proposal to drop the Kryashens from the nationalities list was "strongly lobbied for by Tatarstan, beginning with President Mintimer Shaimiev to the Russian Regions Duma faction headed by Oleg Morozov" elected in Tatarstan. According to them, when the special commission was set up to consider the issue, the chairman of the Kryashen Center, businessman Vitalii Abramov from Chally, was visited by Tuben Kama militia officers who told him he had been wanted for two months since a warrant was issued for his arrest in December 2001. Later the case was reportedly closed after militia met with his lawyer. Regions.ru also reported that "some of Tatarstan's media...poured an endless flow of lies and accusations regarding Kryashens, asserting that they are hired agents of Moscow."

Minor Officials Given Suspended Sentence For Cholera Outburst In Kazan
The Sovetsky district court of Kazan on 11 February issued a verdict on the case of the cholera outbreak in summer 2001, when over 50 children were infected after bathing in a small lake in the Azino area in the Kazan suburbs. The court gave suspended sentence of two years in prison for criminal negligence to the sanitary doctor of Sovetsky district, Rustem Khairullin, and two specialists of the Vodokanal municipal water supply networks, Rustem Kahirullin and Airat Nizamutdinov. After the trial, parents of the sick children told the media that they disagreed with the verdict and that minor officials were punished for the outburst when the district administration head and chief sanitary doctor of Kazan should bear the responsibility.

Tatarstan To Pay Special Attention To State Symbols
Tatarstan's presidential Heraldry Board gathered on 11 February to decide on forming a working group for maintaining the republic's Heraldic Register, Tatnews agency reported. The register is expected to assist "the joint state policy" on the republic's state symbols. This was acknowledged to be the issue of great importance in the wake of coming millennium of Kazan.

Tatneft To Cooperate With Russian Arms Exporter
The Tatneft oil company and state-owned Rosoboronexport company, which deals with military equipment exports, signed a cooperation agreement in Elmet, Tatarstan, on 11 February, Solid-Info agency reported. The two sides plan to join forces in promoting Tatneft's oil-prospecting, oil-extraction, and equipment-maintenance services, and the sales of its oil products and Tuben Kama-produced tires in foreign markets. Tatneft is also reportedly ready to assist the Russian exporter in obtaining payment for contracts with poor countries in oil products.

South Korea Said To Be Preparing A Contract With Kazan Helicopter Plant
South Korea is very interested in purchasing the Ka-226 helicopters produced by Bashkortostan and Orenburg, as well as the Kazan-produced Ansat helicopters, Finmarket information agency reported on 11 February. Both helicopters are powered by American Pratt and Whitney engines, carry 8-10 passengers, and cost $1.5-1.7 million apiece.

Government Seeks To Introduce Better Conditions For Buying Real Estate
Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers on 11 February presented the state's concept of mortgage housing, which is planned to ease the present deficit of apartments for people with average incomes. The scheme proposed by the Construction and Housing Ministry suggests forming a special agency which is to play a mediator role between the banks, which are reluctant to grant long-term real estate loans, and individuals who cannot afford to pay off current housing loans in 1-1 1/2 years, as requested by commercial banks and construction companies.

However, First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov revealed during the meeting that none of Tatarstan's banks present expressed readiness to cooperate with the agency. Only Ak Bars Bank, the official partner of the republic's government, stated its ability to join the project, adding that the maximum possible term of loan repayment under present conditions was only 3-5 years.

Salyamov Claims He Was Beaten By Tatar Militia
Businessman Marsel Salyamov -- a former presidential candidate in Tatarstan and a former candidate for a seat in the republic's State Council who later sued the Council for violating federal laws and demanded the revision of parliamentary elections results of 1999 -- was temporarily detained by Tuben Kama militia on 8 February during their attempt to arrest Rezeda Iskhakova, whose driver met Salyamov in a Tuben Kama bank, Tatar-inform reported on 11 February. According to militia officials, Iskhakova, who is wanted on financial crime charges, was reportedly not found. Salyamov himself claimed that he was beaten by the militia officers during the arrest.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Mezhregiongaz Officials Arrive To Diffuse Payment Tensions
Senior executives from Mezhregiongaz, which represents Russian monopoly Gazprom in collecting gas payments from regions, are due to arrive in Ufa on 12 February. General Director Nikolai Goronovskii, deputies Andrei Karlkin and Rinat Bayguzin, and Commercial Director Vladimir Kostin plan to discuss recent reductions in gas supplies to Bashkortostan with Bashkir officials. The reductions were caused by growing debts for fuel. The mayors of Ufa, Tuymazi, and Oktyabrsky, along with directors from the major debtor enterprises were also invited to the meeting, which should prepare the way for future visits by Gazprom head Aleksei Miller.

Alcohol Retail Business Profitable, Plagued By Infractions
Bashkortostan's State Trade Inspection reported on 11 February that violations in alcohol sales represented the major share of improprieties in figures on 2001 trade. Some 1.3 million rubles were collected in fines from retailers that sold alcoholic beverages without quality certificates or excises paid. Alcohol sales reportedly remains among the most profitable businesses in Bashkortostan.

Deputy Prime Minister Urges Standards Bodies To Force Quality Hike
First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Sigakov on 11 February urged the republican center for standardization, metrology, and certification to boost efforts at forcing Bashkir industry to upgrade the quality of its products. Nevertheless, he insisted that due to frequent checks at factories, the center's staff had no time "for analyzing and distributing information about their work."

Preparations For Afghan Was Anniversary In Progress
Over 150 families of Afghan war veterans, along with many cities and regions in Bashkortostan are preparing to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Participants are expected to join a gathering near a monument at Ufa's southern cemetery to soldiers killed in action, Bashinform reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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