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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 5, 2002

5 March 2002
Duma Deputy Says New Tatar Constitution 'Temporary'
A Russian State Duma deputy from Tatarstan, Fandas Safiullin, told republican press on 4 March that "when we discuss the new draft of the republic's constitution, it is necessary to note that it is temporary and the final variant will be possible to discuss only when Russia returns to the principles of federalism, democracy, and civilized relations." He said Tatarstan's lawmakers had a right to discuss only constitutional provisions adopted by the parliament and not ones passed by referendum (on the basis of popular support). The 28 February session of the Tatarstan State Council considered a draft version of the constitutional article redefining the status of the republic, he said, even though the existing version was approved by the majority of the republic's population in 1992.

State Media Holding Seen As Way To Curb Growing Budget Expenditures
Minister of Communications Rinat Zalyalov, speaking at his ministry's annual meeting on 2 March, said that Tatarstan's state-owned press received 2.4 million rubles ($80,000) from the republican budget and 5.1 million ($170,000) from federal budget in 2001. Tatarstan's "Yashlere Tatar" daily is reportedly the only profitable state-owned title in the republic, while the others do not manage to cover more than half of their costs themselves. Zalyalov added that, in his opinion, the state really needs "a maximum of four out of the current 19 state-printed media outlets." He said a state holding will be created to unite the most efficient state-owned media and curb growing budget expenditures.

Tax Service Sums Up 2001 Receipts
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, the chief federal inspector in the republic, Marsel Galimardanov, and top executives from the republican government joined a meeting of the Federal Tax Service branch in Tatarstan on 4 March, summing up its activities in 2001. Local Tax Service chief Rinat Khairov told the assembly that 49.7 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) was collected in Tatarstan last year. Some 32 percent of that (15.9 billion rubles, or $530 million) was transferred to the federal budget, another 41.2 percent (20.5 billion rubles, or $683 million) to the republican budget, and 26.8 percent (13.3 billion rubles, or $443 million) to local city and regional budgets. Tatarstan�s budget revenues were mostly fueled by taxes on profits (32 percent of the total), individual income-tax payments (12 percent), and the natural resources tax (22 percent). The oil industry is still the biggest taxpayer in the republic, contributing 36 percent of tax revenues. The machinery and the metal processing industries are the second- and third-largest tax contributors, accounting for 8 and 7 percent of the total, respectively.

Minister Of Economy Critical Of Flat Income Tax
Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Industry Minister Sergei Kogogin said on 4 March that the flat 13 percent income tax introduced from 2001 "failed to stimulate private businesses to unveil their profits," reported. He said 114,000 private entrepreneurs are registered as taxpayers in the republic, while 350,000 of those actually operated. According to the State Statistics Committee, the average monthly wage in Tatarstan reached 3,023 rubles ($100) per capita in 2001, and small businesses reported an average salary of 2,925 rubles ($97). "Who would believe that such poor people are working in small businesses?" Kogogin asked.

Tatarstan Muslim Board Approves Plans To Reintroduce Capital Punishment
Gusman Khazrat Iskhakov, the chairman of the Muslim Religious Board in Tatarstan, made a public statement on 4 March supporting a State Duma initiative to lift the moratorium on the death penalty. "God taught us through the Koran...that if someone claims another person's life and violates the moral law,... he has no right to count on mercy...and [should] pay with his own life, which is just."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Insists The Republic Has No Ethnic Rights Violations
President Murtaza Rakhimov told "Komsomolskaya Pravda" on 2 March that fears of "Bashkir separatism" and violations of the Russian population's rights are "purely speculative." He cited statistics on his government's ethnic makeup showing that 12 Russians and 13 Tatars are among the top 33 republican officials. According to Rakhimov, 25,000 refugees from former Soviet republics have come to Bashkortostan in the last five years, 45 percent of them Tatars, 25 percent Russians, and 16 percent ethnic Bashkirs. Rakhimov asserted there were no ethnic rights violations in the republic because there were no ethnic minorities. Rakhimov noted that a majority of Bashkortostan's population -- speaking 112 different languages -- are Muslims.

World Bashkir Congress Leader Identifies 'Historically Bashkir Lands'
The chief executive of the World Bashkir Congress, scientist Niyaz Majitov, published an article in the Bashkir youth magazine "Shonkar" on 4 March claiming that there are 200,000 Bashkirs residing in the Chelyabinsk Oblast of Russia, 70,000 in Orenburg, 60,000 in Saratov, 60,000 in Perm, 30,000 in Tatarstan, 20,000 in Kurgan, and 10,000 in Samara. Majitov referred to all of these regions as "historically Bashkir lands," adding that they were such beginning from the ninth and 10th centuries. Majitov also claimed that Tiptyar Tatars, who fled the Kazan khanate after the conquest of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century and stayed in the territory of modern Bashkortostan, were to be considered "a part of Bashkir people."

Bashkir Leader Talks About Relations With Government
Responding to frequent reports by Tatar rights organizations in the republic alleging that the Bashkir ethnic movement is under the control of the republican government, Ehtar Baskinov, the leader of the Ural Bashkir People's Center, told RFE/RL on 4 March that "we are not an opposition to the government, but at the same time it is impossible to speak of government attention or assistance to us for about a decade already." He avoided speaking about possible cooperation with Tatar organizations with Bashkortostan but noted that both Tatarstan and Bashkortostan need each other. He added that if one of those republics falls under Moscow's pressure, the other one is sure to follow.

Tatar Public Center Joins Russian Opposition Roundtable
The opposition Rus and Ravnopraviaye movements, Bashkortostan chapters of the Yabloko and Eurasia parties, and the local Tatar Public Center branch held a roundtable devoted to the current shape of the local self-government system in the republic on 4 March, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. All sides agreed that the current situation with regional administration heads appointed by President Rakhimov and joining the republic's legislative assembly represented serious violations of federal laws, but did not issue any resolution following their discussion.

Syphilis Statistics Remain Stubbornly High
Health Minister Reis Khasanov told a government meeting on 1 March that while statistics on the spread of syphilis have seen a positive trend toward reduction since 1998, they are still high. Some 154 out of 100,000 Bashkortostan residents had syphilis in 2001. The sexually transmitted disease reportedly has struck more victims in 19 distant regions of Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi