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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 25, 2002


25 June 2002
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Russian Prime Minister Set To Visit Tatarstan
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is to arrive in Kazan in the late afternoon of 25 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 June 2002). Upon arrival, Kasyanov is expected to visit the Kazanskoe Aviatsionnoe Proizvodstvennoe Obedinenie (Kazan Aviation Plant, KAPO). The Kazanskoe Vertoletnyi Zavod (Kazan Helicopter Plant) and the Kazanskoe Motorostroitelnoe Proizvodstvennoe Obedinenie (Kazan Motor Plant) also plan to exhibit their products at KAPO for Kasyanov to inspect.

Later in the day, Kasyanov is to hold a meeting with the heads of Tatarstan's major industries for talks on increasing the efficiency of Russia's economy in accordance with the requirements of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as mentioned in his annual state-of-the-nation address on 18 April.

On the second day of his visit, Kasyanov and his delegation are expected to visit an exhibition dedicated to innovative projects that involve investments by the republic's small and medium-size businesses.

The prime minister is also expected to inspect the main conveyor, workshops, and the showroom of the KamAZ automotive concern in Chally and then head back to Moscow.

Tatneft General Director Comments On Possible Bank Merger
The general director of Tatneft oil company, Shafagat Takhautdinov, told a press conference in Elmet on 21 June that, "in the near future, the shareholders of Moscow's Zenit Bank and Tatarstan's Aq Bars Bank will hold a joint meeting to decide on [the possible] merger of the banks," finmarket.ru reported the next day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 June 2002).

Takhautdinov added that Devon-Kredit bank, which is used by Tatneft to distribute salaries to its employees and for other monetary operations, may also take part in the merger. He added that if this merger does actually take place, then the newly created bank will become Russia's largest regional financial institution.

According to data as of 1 April, Tatneft owns 50.0005 percent of shares in Zenit Bank, 12.02 percent in Devon-Kredit bank, and 28.04 percent in Aq Bars Bank.

Government Discusses Republic's Alcohol Industry
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov chaired a government meeting on the development of the alcohol industry in Tatarstan in 2002-2004 on 24 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The meeting discussed draft proposals presented by the general director of the republic's Tatspirtprom state-owned alcohol producer, Rashit Shaikhutdinov, and the head of Russia's Center for the Restructuring and Development of Companies, Andrei Shapovalyants.

Shaikhutdinov suggested that Tatspirtprom be converted into a "strongly integrated" holding that would unite vodka and liquor plants throughout Tatarstan. Shapovalyants, meanwhile, suggested that Tatspirtprom first put an end to unprofitable projects such as its sponsorship of the Biek Tau auto-racing events and the Kazan Hippodrome. He also suggested that Tatarstan's alcohol giant reduce its number of vodka brands from its current stock of more than 100 to fewer than 10 in order to simplify the promotion of its products in the Russian market.

Tatspirtprom's current output is twice Tatarstan's demand for strong alcoholic drinks. This situation has become worse for the company since restrictions on vodka imports were lifted in 2001. Since then, producers from Moscow and Samara have outproduced the Tatar company in Tatarstan.

Putin Discusses Local Self-Government, Mentions Shaimiev's Work
At a press conference on 24 June, Russian President Putin was asked by a correspondent of the "Nizhegorodskii rabochii" newspaper whether it was "time to abolish the procedure of electing the heads of local self-governments�and to let governors appoint local officials [instead]," Tatar-inform reported the same day.

Putin replied that it was impossible to deprive citizens of the right to elect regional leaders. Putin said the question should really be about how to organize local self-government and what powers and financial responsibilities to give to it. "I would consider it a glaring error if we were to abolish local self-government as a class. Now, the commission headed by deputy head of the [presidential] administration [Dmitrii Kozak] is working on the division of these powers. [This work] involves the representatives of regional heads and local self-governments."

Putin pointed out that this work was initiated by Tatar President Shaimiev within the framework of the presidium of the Russian State Council. Upon Shaimiev's request, a special working group was created under the aegis of the Russian president and "this commission's work proves that we are on the right path," Putin said. He added that, "together with the heads of the subjects [of the Russian Federation] and the representatives of municipal bodies, we will find an optimal solution and make the relevant changes to more than 100 laws that define the competence of the municipal level of authority and make [that authority] function more harmoniously."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Meeting Discusses Problems Of Tatar Diaspora
A number of Bashkortostan-based Tatar leaders took part in a meeting dedicated to Tatar communities in Russia's regions on 22 June, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 24 June. Deputy Chairman of Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress Executive Committee Radik Sibgatov, head of the congress's Culture Committee Marat Sheripov, Chairman of the Tatar Ethnic Cultural Autonomy in Bashkortostan Zahir Hakimov, as well as businessmen Ramil Bignov and Elfet Nejmiev joined Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev in discussing problems facing Tatar diasporas in Russia.

Sibgatov said that the meeting was not dedicated to a single problem nor was it a political campaign, but that it had a number of goals. He said the meeting was especially topical in light the new provision in the amended Tatar Constitution that says Tatarstan will lend assistance to Tatars living outside the republic to preserve their national culture, language and traditions.

Sibgatov also mentioned the "significance of the involvement of businessmen at the meeting, since two-thirds of Tatars live outside [Tatarstan] and do not receive subsidies from local budgets for their cultural needs or else they receive only very small subsidies, while historical experience has shown that [before the 1917 October Revolution], Tatar culture, education, and publishing relied upon rich Tatars. Thus, today, we need to cooperate more closely with our businessmen."

Sibagatov also mentioned what he called the latest concept developed in Bashkortostan concerning the so-called "theory of the western dialect of the Bashkir language," which claims that the language spoken by Tatars in the republic is only a dialect of Bashkir.

Bashkir Communists Approve Party Decisions, Debate Expulsions
The plenum of Bashkir branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) issued a resolution on 22 June approving the recent decisions of the party's Central Committee in Moscow urging the promotion of party discipline and calling on party leaders to hold a congress regarding the current status of the KPRF, Bashinform reported on 24 June.

The agency also reported that Bashkir Communists had heated debates concerning the recent expulsions of several KPRF leaders.

Spring Recruitment Campaign Comes To An End In Republic
The last group of Bashkir draftees enlisted into the Russian armed forces left Ufa on 24 June, Bashkir state radio reported the same day. The Russian military drafted 4,800 recruits from the republic during the spring enlistment campaign, though only 500 of them were reported to be in good health, Alla Pirogova of the Military Commissioner's Office said.

Drug Addiction Sees Drastic Increase In Last Decade
On the eve of international day against drug addiction and illegal drug trafficking to be marked on 26 June, Bashinform quoted Bashkir Health Minister Rais Khasanov as saying that from 1992 to 2001, the number of drug addicts in Bashkortostan rose from 1 per 100,000 citizens to 28.7 per 100,000 citizens. Khasanov added that the actual number of drug addicts in the republic is probably 10 times higher than that reported by official figures.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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