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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 19, 2002


19 November 2002
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Tatar Prime Minister Visits Sweden
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov left on 18 November for Sweden to negotiate with Borealis President John Tailor on establishing the joint production of polyethylene in Tatarstan, intertat.ru reported the same day citing the Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Ministry press service. The aim of the visit is to promote the project to produce some 250,000 tons of polyethylene a year with Borstar technology in Tatarstan and deliver products from republic's petrochemical companies to Borealis plants in Finland and Sweden.

On the eve of the visit, Borealis Executive Vice President Henri Sperle sent a letter to Tatar Trade and Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov saying the company "considers the 19 November meeting to be an important landmark in achieving mutual understanding on the possibilities for the use of Borstar technology in the Russian market."

Kamdorstroi To Construct Airport In Novosibirsk
Tatarstan's Trest Kamdorstroi road-construction company won a tender to construct a take-off and landing strip in the Novosibirsk airport of Tolmachevo, Tatar-inform reported on 18 November. Kamdorstroi suggested that it build the facility for 649 million rubles ($20.4 million) within two years. The project will be financed equally by the federal and oblast budgets. The airport's controlling interest is owned by the Russian Property Ministry.

Transnefteprodukt To Construct Pipeline In Tatarstan
Prime Minister Minnikhanov and Transnefteprodukt President Sergei Maslov signed on 18 November in Kazan an agreement on construction of a 166-kilometer section of the Subkhankovo-Elmet oil pipeline, Tatar-inform reported the same day. Some 120 kilometers of the pipeline will be located in Tatarstan's Aqtanysh, Minzele, Moslim, Sarman, Yutazy, Aznaqai, and Elmet raions, while the other 46 kilometers will be in Bashkortostan. The pipeline will connect similar facilities located in Tatarstan, Nizhnii Novgorod, Ryazan, and Moscow with those of Omsk, Ufa, and Samara. The project. which costs $215 million and will be financed by Transnefteprodukt, is to be completed in three years. Minnikhanov said the project is "extremely profitable" for the republic as it will allow the export of 3 million tons of processed oil a year. Currently Transnefteprodukt transports 25 million tons of processed oil a year and exports 15 million tons of it.

KamAZ To Hold Extraordinary Shareholders Meeting
The KamAZ board of directors on 15 November passed a resolution on holding an extraordinary shareholders meeting to elect the board, tatnews.ru reported on 18 November. The move was initiated by Vneshtorgbank, which owns 19.59 percent of KamAZ and intends to appoint new representatives to the board. The meeting was planned for 17 January.

Russian Government Orders Schools To Teach Orthodoxy
The Russian Education Ministry last week sent regional educational authorities a program on the subject "Orthodox culture," which in fact is aimed at teaching divinity, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 18 November. The paper said the main sections of the program coincide with subjects being taught in Orthodox theological seminaries.

The chairman of the Russian Central Muslim Religious Board, Telget Tajetdin, told Interfax that schoolchildren will be taught principles of all traditional religions of Russia. Head of the Council of Muftis of Russia Rawil Gainetdin told the daily: "Under the current conditions other religious organizations in Russia, including Islamic, are unable to teach their principles in schools since during the Soviet period they were damaged more than the Orthodox Church, and their system of education was fully destroyed and is now being revived." Gainetdin said even in large cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg there are not enough imams to teach in all the schools.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Official News Agency Promotes Recent U-Turn From State Reform In Bashkortostan
The official Bashkir news agency Bashinform published an article on 18 November commenting on the recent decision of the republican government to suspend the transition to a parliamentary republic (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 and 14 November 2002) as a "tribute to the merits of Bashkortostan's president, to whom is connected [our] economic and political stability, interethnic concord, and fears of losing it all." The agency claimed that parliamentary deputies discussing the new draft constitution that was to introduce the parliamentary republic "could not ignore the opinion of a significant share of the population," which reportedly asked for the preservation of presidential rule.

The agency's report was carried by virtually all Bashkir state media, which switched the public's focus from the government reform to the idea that Ufa's power-sharing treaty with Moscow will be preserved in the new draft constitution, which has "enormous importance in light of current Duma deliberations on laws changing the administrative borders of federation entities."

In addition, the report assumes that "unlike other ethnic territorial entities, Bashkortostan has demonstrated itself as law-abiding and undertakes preventive measures for securing good relations with the center and does everything to preserve what was achieved in the years of sovereignty and guarantee its security not only from the man-made [industry-related] disasters predicted for 2003, but also election-based ones." Next year will reportedly be the year of presidential and parliamentary elections in Bashkortostan, as well as elections for Russian State Duma seats.

Bashkir Parliamentarian Says Halt Of State Reform By Will Of The People...
A number of Bashkortostan's newspapers published a statement on 18 November by Legislative Chamber deputy Guzel Sitdikova, saying "the previous proposal to abolish the presidential post in Bashkortostan caused numerous protests from many residents of the republic, regardless of their nationality." She added that the change to a parliamentary system would "lower the republic's status and limit its people's rights."

...While Ordinary People Left Guessing On Reason For About-Face
On 18 November, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent interviewed Fenuze Gyimadieva, a local resident who stated her confusion "about the drastic change of the government plans." She said: "For more than a month all of the press [in Bashkortostan] were promoting the idea of a parliamentary republic as the most democratic system, now they begin saying that presidential rule is the best. The local edition of 'Argumenty i fakty' weekly recently suggested that someone changed [President] Murtaza Gubaidullovich [Rakhimov's] mind about state reform. I agree with that and I think that this someone is not from Bashkortostan. It's very doubtful that during the next presidential elections people of our republic will cast their votes in favor of a president who changes his opinion so quickly."

Prominent Economist Says Decentralization Of Budget Flows Inevitable For Russia
Yevgenii Yasin, former Russian minister of economy and adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, now head of the Academy of Science's Higher School of Economics, commented on 18 November on the issue of Bashkortostan's sovereignty in the aspect of the ongoing takeover of tax revenues from regional budgets by Moscow, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. Yasin told a press conference in Moscow that the country "sooner or later will come to the decentralization of budget resources." He said, "Interbudgetary relations between the center and the regions should be based upon the principles of federalism and responsibility." Yasin defended the idea of dividing tax revenues between the center and the regions instead of current sharing of the same revenues between them. He also supported the right of regional governments to regulate the rates of some specific taxes.

Yasin praised the special federal programs for supporting specific branches of regional economies instead of the previous practice of "addressless" transfers, adding that "this model has already proved vital in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, but their further development became impossible under the current conditions of building a stronger power vertical [in Russia]. Nevertheless democratization trends will inevitably lead to decentralization of interbudgetary resources, its only a matter of time."

Government Endorses Decree For Expanding Mental-Hospital Network
Bashkortostan's cabinet endorsed a state program on "urgent measures" to improve the state of psychiatric care in a move to implement a recently adopted federal law on psychiatric care and guaranteeing the citizens' rights, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 18 November. Some 2,500 patients needing psychiatric care were registered per 100,000 residents in Bashkortostan in 2001, while the state of facilities at the republic's main psychiatric hospital was reported as "critical." The republic will seek to improve the efficiency of psychiatrists by splitting up the larger hospitals and providing a wider network of small, local, mental-treatment centers. The program will reportedly use the medical funds of both the republican government's and local budgets and apply for transfers from the federal Health Ministry.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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