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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 30, 2002

30 December 2002
Controversial Chally Church To Be Built Elsewhere
Chally authorities and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church say that the conflict surrounding the construction of the Orthodox St. Tatiana's Church in the city has been resolved, Tatar news agencies reported on 28 December. It was decided at a meeting the previous day to allot a new plot of land for the church instead of building it near Victory Park, which is dedicated to the victims of World War II. In October, three female pensioners were charged with vandalizing the church's foundation, but they claimed that the decision to build the church near the park violated city zoning regulations and also insulted the feelings of non-Orthodox believers who fought in World War II (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, and 31 October, 4 and 25 November 2002).

Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan said that since a Chally court struck down an earlier decision allowing the church to be built near the park (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 December 2002), he agreed to having the church built elsewhere, adding that, "We have chosen another location ourselves -- a much better one." He also said the city administration promised to pay for building the church's foundation.

Shaimiev Calls On Government To Support Domestic Producers
In an interview with Interfax on 29 December, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said that the positive influence of the August 1998 economic crisis on industrial development in Russia has ended, and he predicted that economic growth would decrease in 2003. Shaimiev said that the federal government's most important tasks for next year are the regulation of tariffs on natural monopolies and providing support for domestic manufacturers. Shaimiev criticized the government for continuing to import foodstuffs, aircraft, and automobiles, which, he said, is creating problems for domestic producers.

Kazan Mayor Awarded For International Cooperation
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov was given a medal on 25 December for outstanding achievement in international cooperation in honor of the Russian Foreign Ministry's 200th anniversary, reported on 28 December, citing the Kazan administration's press service. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov handed out the medal at a ceremony in Moscow marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Russian National Committee on UNESCO Affairs. Iskhaqov is the only mayor in Russia to have been awarded a medal for international cooperation, the agency reported.

Air-Traffic Controllers Get Wage Increase
Air-traffic controllers at two of Russia's busiest airports, Kazan and Begishevo, have been granted a 28 percent wage increase to 8,500 rubles ($267) a month, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 28 December. Air-traffic controllers at the republic's third airport, Bogelme, have been awarded a 16 percent increase. The wage increases are the result of an agreement between the Russian Transportation Ministry and the national unions of air-traffic controllers that was signed on 25 December following a four-day hunger strike involving air-traffic controllers across the country.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

The RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir reports will not be published from 31 December and 1 January but will return on 2 January.
Government Instructs Journalists On Election Coverage
Bashkir Media Minister Zoefer Timerbolatov held a special meeting for local journalists on 27 December to give instructions on how to cover next year's elections in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Timerbolatov, together with Bashkir Central Election Commission secretary Naile Altinova, State Inspectorate on Press Freedom head Rishat Lokmanov, and state-owned Bashinform agency Deputy General Director Alik Shakiyrov, emphasized in their statements that modern legislation enabled the publicity of election affairs, but this publicity "did not mean permissiveness."

Nevertheless, state officials at the event also admitted that the 2003 elections for the republic's State Assembly, president, local self-government bodies, as well as the Russian State Duma "ought to proceed in the conditions of maximum democracy, transparency, and openness."

Over 60 Percent In Republic Now Hold New Russian Passports
More than 2 million of Bashkortostan's 3.3 million residents had received new Russian passports by 20 December, head of the republic's passport-visa service Ferit Abdrakhmanov told a press conference on 26 December, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the next day. Although the Russian government issued a decree on replacing the old Soviet passports with new ones in 1997, the reform began in Bashkortostan only from June 2001, after the issue of including Bashkortostan's state symbols and notes in Bashkir was settled. Abdrakhmanov expressed confidence that the new passports will be completely distributed in the republic two months before the deadline set by Russian President Vladimir Putin at 31 December 2003.

Few Party Representatives Appointed To Chair Territorial Election Commissions
Bashkir Central Election Commission Deputy Chairwoman Marina Dolmatova told Bashinform on 26 December that the majority of officials appointed to head the 69 territorial voting districts by her commission did not represent any political parties. The list of voting district heads includes no more than four representatives from the People's Party, Fatherland-All Russia bloc, Yabloko, Union of Rightist Forces, or Vladmir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. She said that during the distribution of election commission seats, the Communist Party, Unity, Fatherland-All Russia, Yabloko, and Zhirinovskii's party "showed more activity, each offering more than 50 candidates."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi