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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 31, 2003

31 January 2003
Statistics Head Concedes Census Form Was Not Confirmed
Speaking to State Duma deputies on 22 January, State Statistics Committee Chairman Vladimir Sokolin acknowledged that the October national census form was not officially confirmed, "Parlamentskaya gazeta" reported on 23 January. Sokolin was invited before the Duma on the initiative of Fendes Safiullin, who has repeatedly charged that changing the census form to drop a question on native language constituted a gross violation of the Russian census law. Safiullin iterated at the session that the dispute over the census form stems from an abuse of power that led to a violation of citizens' rights and legal interests. He demanded that authorities investigate the issue and punish those responsible. He also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare the census results invalid as a resulf of such violations.

Russian Regions Leader Promotes Unity Of Unified Russia...
Oleg Morozov, who heads the Russian Regions caucus in the State Duma and is a member of Unified Russia's general-council presidium, met with activists from Unified Russia in Tatarstan on 29 January to discuss recent efforts by the council to overcome a parallel power structure within the party, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 30 January. The conflict involves the general council and the party's central executive committee. Morozov said the party entered a period of "natural normalization and correction [of] mistakes" after the general council protested the recent publication of a party manifesto that caught the council off-guard. The council demanded that Unified Russia hold a congress to adopt amendments to the party charter, approve an ideological platform, and grant regional chapters the right to accept or reject party members. The posts of central executive committee chairman and general council chairman would be divided and the latter rotated, under the plan, along with other procedural changes. The decision was backed by 11 of 13 general-council members and three of five members of the central executive committee. The congress, slated for 29 March, is aimed at demonstrating unity within the party, Morozov said.

...Says Party Presidential One
Morozov added that President Putin, after being informed of the situation in Unified Russia, also supported the position of the general council, according to "Respublika Tatarstan." Morozov stressed that the party is a "political project by Russian President Vladimir Putin," adding, that "no similar political project will appear" in the future. He predicted that Unified Russia will "become a party of the majority of the population and of Russia's success" for the next 100 years, adding, however, that the party's rating lags behind that of Putin.

Muslim Leaders Warn Of Growing Wahhabi Threat
In an interview with "Vremya i dengi" daily of 25 January, Tatarstan's First Deputy Mufti Weliulla Yaqupov says Tatarstan is threatened by the spread of religious extremism as followers of radical religious trends, including Wahhabis, have become more active of late. Yaqupov says such groups recruit predominantly among young people who are ignorant of the principles of the religion. Yaqupov claims Wahhabis are most heavily represented in Chally and Elmet. He adds that the development of a religious-education system capable of training enough educated priests in the ways of traditional Islam could alleviate the problem.

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 29 January that imams in Ingushetia have appealed to President Murad Zyazikov, saying followers of Wahhabism have become increasingly active and calling for "maximum efforts to prevent a split among the Ingush people." They called on Ingushetia's president to "order law-enforcement bodies to fight extremist trends and to strengthen legality and legal order." They also said it is necessary "to forbid construction of new mosques without the agreement of state bodies and the Ingush Religious Board."

The paper commented that accusations of Wahhabi support have become a weapon in the struggle between competing Islamic centers in Russia. The paper said that following Wahhabism is not a crime, adding that not all Wahhabis are extremists, while such confusion in terminology might result in accusations of extremism against Muslims who in fact are not extremists.

Tatarstan To Issue 500 Million Rubles' Worth Of Bonds
The Republic of Tatarstan plans to issue 500 million rubles' ($15.7 million) worth of bonds in 2003 to cover part of its budget deficit, reported on 30 January. Authorities also hope to attract some 1.16 billion rubles in loans and 325 million rubles in privatization revenues to cover the republic's budget deficit, which is expected to total 2.4 billion rubles.

Ak Bars Bank Reaps Foreign Financing
Ak Bars Bank has signed a credit agreement with Germany's Bayerische Hypo-Und Vereinsbank bank to finance the delivery of 900,000 euros' worth of German-made construction equipment, Tatar-inform reported on 30 January. The equipment will be manufactured by Liebherr under guarantees from export-credit agency Germes. The equipment is to be delivered in the first half of 2003. The news agency also reported that several foreign banks, including Germany's Dresdner Bank and Bank Gesellschaft Berlin along with Union Bank of California International, have opened credit lines with Ak Bars Bank.

Rostov Oblast To Lease KamAZ Trucks
The Russian Development Bank's leasing company signed a contract with YugAvtoSnab to purchase 10.1 million rubles' ($317,400) worth of KamAZ trucks, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 30 January. The vehicles will be leased by the Taganrog-based Agro-Invest company within three years to supply the Rostov Oblast agricultural sector. The leasing company, founded last year, has 200 million rubles of capital.

Tatneft Slips Behind Sibneft...
Tatneft yielded its spot as Russia's fifth-largest oil producer to Sibneft in 2002, reported on 29 January. Sibneft increased production by about one-fourth to 26.3 million tons, while Tatneft maintained production at the level of 24.6 million tons.

...As Tatneft Director Listed Among Top 20 Managers
Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov placed 20th among Russia's most-influential businessmen in a ranking released by the weekly "Dengi," reported on 29 January. Takhawetdinov manages about $711 million in capital, according to the report. Russia's Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais, who has some $5.2 billion at his company's disposal, tops the list.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Kirov Oblast Teachers To Strike...
Teachers at secondary schools in Kirov Oblast informed local authorities on 22 January that they will hold a strike from 3-8 February to protest delays in the payment of salaries which they have not received since October, reported on 29 January. The debts on salaries grew from 122 million rubles in October to 250.5 million rubles in January, while the teachers' monthly salary fund totals 123 million rubles. Teachers of the oblast's several raions have held strikes ranging from three to 21 days in November and December, after which they were paid for October.

...As Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Air-Traffic Controllers Request Promised Wages Increase
Surgut air-traffic controllers appealed to the Aeronavigatsii Severa Sibiri Director Aleksandr Zubov about getting a 27 percent wage increase that they were promised after a December hunger strike, "Tyumenskaya linia" reported on 27 January.

Air-traffic controllers in some 40 Russian cities held a hunger strike on 22-25 December that resulted in an agreement between the State Civil Aviation Service, the State Corporation on Air Traffic Management, and trade unions to increase the controllers' wages by 27 percent.

Perm Militia Asks Residents To Inform On Foreigners -- No One Taking Up The Offer
The Perm Interior Affairs Directorate's Migration Department is providing a "confidential telephone line" for residents wishing to inform law enforcement bodies about migrants who do not have legal registration, "Izvestiya" reported on 24 January. Department head Viktor Fadeev told the daily that the idea was born during the antiterror operation held in the wake of the Moscow hostage-taking in October. He said that by the end of January 20,000 foreigners have been registered in the oblast, adding that their true number is thought to exceed that figure fivefold. Department employee Tatyana Lazareva, however, said that during the first week of the line's operation the department has not received any important information.

Indebted Family In Saratov To Be Moved From Apartment
Saratov's Lenin Raion Court ruled on 23 January to evict a family of Lapshins from their apartment for a debt of 17,314 rubles that it owes for housing and municipal services, reported on 24 January citing Interfax. The court has also provided the family with another smaller apartment.

Seleznev May Run For Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor
The secretary of the Communist Party (KPRF) in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Vladimir Starichenko told "Novyi Region" on 24 January that representatives of State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev have since early January been studying public opinion in the oblast as regards Seleznev's running as a candidate for Sverdlovsk Oblast governor. The KPRF Sverdlovsk Oblast committee still has not determined its candidate for the gubernatorial elections and may abstain from participation in them as well as in the Yekaterinburg mayoral elections in order to save money for the State Duma elections, the agency said.

Governors Comment On Subjects Merger
Meeting on 24 January, Tyumen Oblast Governor Sergei Sobyanin, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Filipenko, and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Governor Yurii Neelov established a working group to develop proposals on the draft legislation given by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the State Duma, according to which some powers are to be passed from okrugs to the oblast, reported the same day, citing the Tyumen agency of economic news, Kapital.

Commenting on the draft, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Filipenko said the Russian Constitution provides that similar decisions can only be passed if both the federation and its subject approve it, while that proposal contradicts constitutional principles. He said only the people of the okrug together with the Russian Federation can adopt such a decision. Commenting on the proposal to change the okrug's status and transform it into an oblast, krai, or republic, Filipenko said that though the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug has the right to work for any new status, it never sought and is not going to seek this unless it is forced to do so by legislation.

Tyumen Oblast Governor Sergei Sobyanin said the draft does not call for the abolishment of autonomous okrugs or of depriving them of their status but only to redistribute their powers. Sobyanin said the draft should be applied to okrugs with weak economies and a small population. As for relations between Tyumen Oblast and the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrugs, he said their leaders will reach compromises despite any legislation.

Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Governor Yurii Neelov said he is very concerned with the draft law that he says violates the rights of autonomous okrugs. Neelov said the Yamal-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrugs grew out of their status and could become oblasts, an idea that should be discussed in parallel with proposals on the merger of federation subjects.

National-Bolsheviks Reportedly Threaten SPS In Cheboksary
Persons calling themselves members of the National-Bolshevik Party reportedly called on 28 January to the office of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) in Cheboksary and told them to "get out of Cheboksary," NTA Privolzhe reported the same day citing the SPS's local leader, Aleksandr Kotyusov.

A group of 10 young men between 16 and 18 years old ransacked a Union of Rightist Forces office in Cheboksary on 23 January, NTA Privolzhe reported the next day citing Kotyusov.

Kotyusov claimed on 28 January that Interior Ministry employees told him that the assailants were representatives of either the National-Bolshevik Party or a radical wing of the Communist Party. No independent sources could confirm this information.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova