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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 18, 2000

18 January 2000
Federal Minister Comments On Oil Companies, Federation Issues
The Russian minister of taxes, Aleksandr Pochinok, recently said at a press conference in Moscow that the Tatneft and Bashneft oil companies of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan "exceeded the necessary sum of taxes to be paid in December 1999." Tatarinform quoted Pochinok on 18 January as saying that the future "access of these companies to the oil exporting pipeline will be considered by a special commission of Russian government." Previously, the federal minister had warned Tatneft and Bashneft that they would be cut off from the pipeline due to nonpayment of federal taxes for November. Both companies claimed to have paid on time and in full.

Pochinok reportedly insisted that the "treaty on the delegation of powers between the federal government and Bashkortostan Republic was not operating," and that there should not be any "special relations between the center and some of the regions." He suggested that the existing system of relations with the regions should be brought in accordance with federal legislation.

Regarding the general regional policy in the Russian Federation, Pochinok offered to abolish the "existing system of exemptions for the regions" and "directly finance them through the federal budget."

TPC In Chally Holds Rally Against Chechen War
The nationalist Tatar Public Center branch in Tatarstan's second city of Chally held a rally against the war in Chechnya on 15 January, an RFE/RL correspondent reported the same day. Tatar public organizations from other cities in Tatarstan, the neighboring Bashkortostan Republic, Udmurtia, and the Samara Oblast reportedly joined the rally which involved a number of Chechen refugees who said that they "didn't speak out at the meeting in order to avoid heating up the situation." A resolution was adopted at the meeting demanding that the Russian government "stop the Chechen war and start negotiations with the elected president, Aslan Maskhadov." The resolution stated the dissatisfaction of the rally participants with "Russian generals getting more involved in politics, while they should only be taking orders." The meeting urged Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev to "use all of his influence and authority (in an effort to) solve the Chechen problem as soon as possible." They also asked the government of Tatarstan to arrange the necessary assistance that Chechen refugees in the republic need. The Tatar Public Center in Chally stated that if the war in Chechnya was not over soon it will call for a boycott of the Russian presidential elections scheduled for 26 March.

Bashkortostan Abolishes Free Public Transport
Beginning on 17 January, the Bashkortostan Republic introduced user fees for its public transport system, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ufa reported the same day. General city transport except for express buses, had been toll free in the republic for the last several years. Public transportation was reportedly funded by payroll taxes. This system was cancelled because the total amount of back wages in the republic looms at more than 1.5 billion rubles.

Kazan Airport Gets Money For Reconstruction
About 193 million rubles will be invested in a reconstruction program for Kazan's international airport in 2000, Tatarstan's deputy premier, Vladimir Shvetsov, said at a press conference on 14 January. Reconstruction reportedly includes improvement of airport runways, buildings, and aircraft.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi