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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 16, 2002

16 August 2002
Tatarstan's Duma Deputy Comments On Draft 2003 Budget
Ivan Grachev, the State Duma deputy from Tatarstan who is the leader of the Development of Business party, said he "fully supported" the proposal made by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to refuse to create a balanced budget after 2003, reported on 16 August. Grachev said low taxes and investment in important sectors of the economy, not the creation of $20 billion in budgetary reserves, are necessary to develop the economy. He added that the Russian government should also lower taxes since that "as a result of tax reforms, tax collection has worsened." Grachev said the draft 2003 budget is similar to those of the two previous years and that the predicted inflation rate is, as usual, "unrealistic."

KamAZ Increases Its Share In NefAZ
KamAZ General Director Sergei Kogogin met on 14 August with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov to discuss cooperation in the manufacture of NefAZ buses using KamAZ chassis, reported on 15 August. Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov, Bashkir Industry, Foreign Relations, and Trade Minister Boris Kolbin, and NefAZ General-Director Raif Malikov took part in talks during which the two sides stated their intention to purchase 150 new NefAZs each. Baidavletov, Kogogin, and Malikov signed a protocol that redistributes NefAZ shares so that the Bashkir Property Relations Ministry got 25 percent plus one share and KamAZ received 50 percent plus one share. Minority shareholders hold the rest of the shares. According to a business-plan approved by the NefAZ board of directors, annual production will reach 1,000 by 2004. The sides agreed as well to increase deliveries of KamAZ trucks and their spare parts to Bashkortostan and to develop KamAZ service stations throughout the republic.

Tatenergo Turning Off Energy To Debtors
Tatenergo is owed 444 million rubles ($14.1 million) by its consumers for heating, reported on 15 August, citing the energy company's press service. Tatenergo warned its debtors that their contracts for heating will be cancelled if they do not repay their debts within one month. And Tatenergo has already begun cutting off heat to 24 companies that have not reacted to its warnings, among them Valkom, which owes 2.2 million rubles ($69,500), and Tatmebel, which has a 7.3 million ruble ($232,400) debt.

Tadzhuddin Backs Union Of Russia, Belarus
The chairman of the Russian Central Muslim Religious Board, Talgat Tadzhuddin, said that Russia and Belarus are united by common spiritual values, reported on 15 August. Tadzhuddin made his comments following a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Moscow the same day. Tadzhuddin said that, "There are a lot of things that unite our countries, first of all, spiritual, culture, and historical similarities. And a statement by Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin on further integration between our countries [gives me the] kindest feelings." He expressed the belief that the establishment of a union state would not be an "artificial creature" but a necessity for all peoples of the two countries. Tadzhuddin also stressed that followers of Islam played a significant role in the history of Belarus over the past several centuries.

Cossacks Units To Be Established In Tatarstan, Bashkortostan
Representatives from Tatarstan and Bashkortostan will in the near future join the Orenburg Cossack Society, reported on 15 August citing the South-Ural news service. The issue was discussed at a council of Cossack chieftains in Kurgan. Currently the society unites Cossacks from the Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and Kurgan oblasts. The society's new units due to be set up in the republics -- the Chally and Tabyn departments -- are preparing the necessary documents. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a 10 August decree, appointed Vladimir Glukhovskii a new chieftain of the Orenburg Cossack Society. The agency cited Nikolai Bratanov, the deputy head of the Chelyabinsk Okrug Cossacks Society, as saying the measure will help stabilize the situation in the Cossacks' army and establish stable relations with the heads of federation subjects with the aim being for Cossacks to participate in state service and the development of local self-government for Cossacks.

Another Mosque Opens In Chally
A new mosque, the fifth one in the city, is to open in Chally on 17 August, reported on 15 August. Tatarstan's Mufti Gusman Iskhakov is expected to take part in the opening ceremony. The agency cited the deputy head of the Chally administration's public relations board, Ilkham Aminov, as saying that great assistance in organizing the construction of the mosque and in finding funding for the structure was provided by Irek Ishkineev, the former head of a Chally hospital.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatar Organizations In Bashkortostan Slam BTK Leadership
The 10 August congress of Bashkortostan's Tatar civic organizations adopted a resolution criticizing the Executive Committee of the World Tatar Congress (BTK) for its inactivity in Bashkortostan over the past five years, RFE/RL's Kazan correspondent reported on 14 August. The resolution claimed that the BTK paid no attention to the problems of Tatars in Bashkortostan and hadn't held any sessions or even any meetings with branch leaders in the republic, which, the resolution asserted, has the highest population of Tatars outside Tatarstan.

The congress also proposed that current BTK leaders be replaced and that the organization's central bodies be moved from Kazan "to some other city in Russia."

Federal Government Approves Extra Financing For Republic's Socioeconomic-Development Program
Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref told a press conference in Moscow on 14 August that the federal government had approved a program of additional financing to support Bashkortostan's program for socioeconomic development for the period 2003-2005, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. In accordance with the program, the federal government has agreed to add 34 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) to the 172 billion rubles that the republic plans to spend (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 April 2002). The Russian State Duma is to vote on the proposed assistance package during its fall session.

Republic Releases Figures Regarding October Census
The part of the Russian national census to be carried out in Bashkortostan in October will cost Moscow 35.3 million rubles ($1.12 million), RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 August, citing a statement made the same day by Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Airat Gaskarov. The federal government transferred 40 percent of these funds to Ufa on 8 August. The funds are to be spent on renting office space, hiring a security service, and for transportation and the purchase of communication equipment.

Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov told a cabinet meeting the day before that Bashkortostan and Tatarstan are the only two Russian regions that will have the right to process the census data in their own local statistics centers before sending them on to Moscow, whereas all other regions will have to send the data directly to the capital.

Government Decides To Eliminate Practice Of Setting Grain Price
Bashkir Deputy Agriculture Minister Artur Nugumanov told the local edition of "Izvestiya" daily in an interview published on 15 August that for the first time in the history of the republic, the government will purchase grain from farmers at market rates. In the past, the government would set grain prices in the spring. By the end of harvest season, however, the official government-set price was usually higher than the market price. As a result, the Bashkir government was unable to sell grain grown in the republic on the Russian market because it was among the most expensive in the country.

Wage Arrears Continue To Grow
The Bashkir State Statistics Committee announced on 15 August that by the beginning of this month, back wages owed by companies in the republic had reached 1.3 billion rubles ($41.3 million), while 42 percent of that amount, or 560.5 million rubles, was comprised of wage arrears accumulated only in the first seven months of this year, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 16 August. Wage arrears have reportedly been increasing in the industrial and agriculture sectors of the economy.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi