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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 2, 2000

2 February 2000
Security Council To Prevent Terrorism And Crime
Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, said that the republic's newly formed Security Council was "necessary as a governmental body responsible for both internal and external security," Tatarinform reported on 2 February. Shaimiev is the chairman of the council -- which held its first meeting on 28 January -- and Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and parliamentary speaker Farit Mukhametshin are deputies. The former head of Tatarstan's State Security Committee, Viner Salimov, was appointed a secretary of the council. Shaimiev said that Tatarstan had to study the experience of the Russian Security Council since none of the Russian regions could be used by Tatarstan as an example. A Security Council was formed in Bashkortostan several years ago but it mostly deals with humanitarian aid issues. The republican press quoted Tatar Interior Minister Asgat Safarov on 2 February as saying that "adult and juvenile crime significantly grew in 1999 and the council is to stop that dangerous trend." Saffarov also said that he considered "terrorism and religious extremism to be a special problem in Tatarstan." He said that the explosion at the gas pipeline from Perm to Nizhny Novgorod created a serious threat of possible terrorist acts on the republic's territory. Four teachers of the Ish-Muhammat Moslem religious school, several Pakistani citizens and a Lebanese citizen, who was a member of Al -Jamaa extremist organization were deported from Tatarstan for "ideological brainwashing" in 1999. Minister stated that the council would also "pay special attention to preventing the corruption growth and rising drug addiction."

Recent meeting of Security Council formed permanent governmental commissions for promoting the republic's economic security (chaired by presidential advisor Filza Khamidullin), informational security (chaired by the Minister of Press, TV and Radio, Mass Communications Zilya Valeeva), ecological security and healthcare (Minister of Healthcare Kamil Ziyatdinov), defense issues and military servicemen affairs (chief military commissioner in TR Rim Mustayev), crime and corruption enforcement (Tatarstan's Chief Prosecutor Sayfikhan Nafiyev), drug addiction and drug trafficking enforcement (Interior Minister Asgat Safarov), terrorism enforcement (first deputy PM Ravil Muratov).

SC chairman Viner Salimov told the republican press on 1 February that the council "would not implement censorship for the mass media, but would protect the rights of the press being a civilized structure completely responding to the norms of democratic society."

Pipeline Explosion Plotters Arrested
Tatarstan's State Security Committee detained several people from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and the Kirov Oblast suspected of planning the explosion that destroyed the portion of the Perm-Kazan-Nizhny Novgorod gas pipeline located at Tatarstan's border with the Kirov Oblast that occurred in December 1999, Russia's Federal Security Service announced on 1 February. Some of the suspects reportedly were trained in militant extremist camps in Chechnya. The official statement says "the crime was motivated by the detainees' desire to damage the economic interests of Russia by stopping gas deliveries to Western Europe and forcing the European Union to put pressure on the Russian government in connection with its actions in Chechnya." The explosion was reportedly arranged using similar explosives as those used in the terrorist bombings in Moscow in September 1999. An investigation into the case is in progress while the republic's State Security Committee is joining forces with Russian law enforcement officials to prevent other possible terrorist acts by making raids as part of the anti-terrorist operation Whirlwind.

Tatarstan Seeks To Revive Light Industry
Tatarstan's Ministry of Economy and Industry introduced a program on 1 February aimed at ridding the republic of loss-making state enterprises within the light industry. Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry Anvar Zakirov said at a press conference the same day that 60 percent of all state-owned companies in the light industry are expected to be profitable by the end of 2000. He also said that the industry will be made up of only profitable companies by 2002. The republican budget for 2000 stipulates a 100 percent tax break for companies in that industry.

Natural Gas Tax Rises In Republic
Natural gas tariffs in Tatarstan went up twofold on 1 February. One cubic meter of gas in Tatarstan including VAT now costs 0.28 rubles.

Foreign Trade Turnover Boosted In Tatarstan
According to Tatarstan's State Committee on Statistics, 83 percent of the republic's foreign trade turnover last year was in exports and 17 percent in imports in 1999. Annual export volume was some $14 billion, exceeding the 1998 total by 10.5 percent.

Tatarstan imported some $283 million worth of goods last year, a 35.5 percent decrease compared to the previous year. Oil made up 61.5 percent of the republic's exports, while machine industry products were 10.5 percent of last year's total. Machinery and autos made up 60.5 percent of the republic's imports in 1999.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi