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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 25, 2001

25 January 2001
KamAZ Settles Its Relations With EBRD
KamAZ automotive works obtained the agreement with European Bank of Reconstruction and Development for restructuring its debt and finished the procedure of restructuring its total debt looming to $1 billion, republican press reported on 18 January. EBRD granted the trucks producing giant a $100 million loan within a mortgage agreement in 1995. Two years later KamAZ declared its inability to service its debts and the Tatarstan�s government suggested the creditors to convert the debts it plant�s shares and become proprietors of the venture. While the most of the creditors including Russian government and commercial banks agreed with the proposed scheme, EBRD was persistent in demanding the monetary repayments of its loan. During that period of time, the plant's main assembly conveyor was stopped because every new truck brought losses reaching 50% of production costs, company�s shares were constantly falling in price. As a result of restructuring Russian Property Ministry obtained 47% of KamAZ shares and the banks owned a 30% shares package. EBRD launched a suit in the London arbitrage court against the company in 1999 and the KamAZ managers replied by a counter-suit. Although the judicial specialists predicted fruitful future for both of the suits, because the European Bank signed a loan agreement with KamAZ without the consent of company's shareholders, sides withdrew their mutual claims. Russian PM Mikhail Kasyanov stated his "principal consent" to give KamAZ federal guarantees in the EBRD affair in April 2000 and sides signed the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding. Later in 2001 EBRD agreed to convert the half of KamAZ's $141 million debt into 3-4% of its shares and receive the other half within 12 years. Such positive development of the Eurobank affair allowed the Tatarstan's major industrial producer to clear its bookkeeping, obtain stable owners and unite it's assets.

Shaimiev Says Too Early To Register As A Presidential Candidate
President Mintimer Shaimiev told the press conference in Kazan airport after his arrival from Moscow on 20 January that in the nearest future he wouldn't officially declare his intention to run in the March presidential elections. He said "it's necessary to make this step as late as possible," because otherwise all his actions would be considered as a part of presidential campaign.

Tatar Parliament Worried About The Passport Issue
Tatarstan's State Council addressed with a message to President Vladimir Putin and PM Mikhail Kasyanov protesting the form of new Russian passports on 24 January. Deputies stated their discontent with the federal government's decree of 5 January 2001 specifying that the territorial entities can only enter the inlay cards with bearer's data in local languages and region's state symbols to the passports. Tatar parliament assigned the Cabinet of Ministers to interpose an appeal against the Moscow�s decree in Russia's Supreme Court. Before the trial the new passports will not be issued to republic's citizens. Within the 3 years term of negotiations on the passport issue, Interior Ministry issued over 5 thousand temporary identification documents to citizens coming of age. According to the State Council�s statement, "citizens of TR have a right to have passports with pages indicating their citizenship and state symbols of their republic." The statement added, "resolution of the mentioned issue will assist in strengthening the state�s basis and stability of Russia." Parliamentary speaker Farit Mukhametshin said in his critical statement regarding the attitude of federal authorities to passports issue, that it would be acceptable for Tatarstan Republic to have its own page in the passport, not an inlay card.

Shaimiev Izvestia Interview
Tatarstan�s president Mintimer Shaimiev told the Russian Izvestia newspaper on 24 January that there was nothing unexpected in that he supported the power vertical-strengthening trend in Russia. He said �I always felt that strong authority was necessary in Russia. Logic told me: whoever become the Russian president he should begin with tiding the mess up. Its impossible to effectively implement the political and economic reforms with the crumbly government.� President Shaimiev commented on the current situation in republic�s economy, finance, industry and agriculture emphasizing that Russian Federation could succeed by �staking the interests of its regions.�

Estonian Diplomat Interested In Tatarstan�s Religious Affairs
Estonian Ambassador to Russian Federation Tiit Matsulevich met the members of Tatarstan�s Moslem Religious Board on 25 January to discuss the religious affairs in Estonia, Russia and Tatarstan. Matsulevich informed the MRB representatives that the construction of two mosques recently began in Tallinn and the neighboring area populated by Tatar diaspora.

Opposition Newspaper Says Altinbayev Will Not Run For The President Of Tatarstan
Opposition weekly Zvezda Povolzhya referring to some sources in republican government on 25 January reported that former Chally mayor, Russian deputy minister of agriculture Rafgat Altinbayev will abstain from presidential race in Tatarstan. Altinbayev reportedly met the incumbent president Shaimiev and later told his supporters in the republic to cancel their pre-election activities. Zvezda Povolzhya article called �Surprise Tatarstan-style� said that federal government pledged its support to Shaimiev in his future presidential campaign, while there were a lot of Altinbayev�s supporters revealed among the republic�s officials. Author of the article Rashit Akhmetov suggests that the possible Altinbayev�s participation in the poll was �just a game for discovering the foes inside Shaimiev�s camp.� So far none of the two mentioned as serious contestants for presidential post in TR officially stated their intentions to run.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Harmonization Proceeds, But Forest Code Preserved
The State Assembly amended laws named said to contradict federal legislation on 18 January, dropping Bashkortostan's exclusive right to develop its foreign trade and adjusting rules on ethnic and cultural organizations. In addition, the deputies repealed the law on charitable organizations. But the parliament refused to change the forest code as requested by Moscow's representatives.

Rakhimov Loses Powers to Moscow
As amended, Bashkortostan's Constitution limits the powers of President Murtaza Rakhimov in appointing the members of republic Supreme and Arbitrage courts as well as chief prosecutor. He is to present the judges and the prosecutor to the State Assembly only for "coordination," because Moscow now makes the final decision.

Tax Police Raise Money for Pension Fund
Federal Tax Police Board [FTPB] in Bashkortostan returned some 90 million rubles to republic's Pension Fund in 2000, "Respublika Bashkortostan" reported on 19 January as a result of investigations of local companies.

Municipal Support for Small Businesses in Ufa
The Ufa city administration announced on 20 January that it will provide local businessmen some 10 million rubles in support during 2001.

Street Children a Growing Problem
The State Control Committee said on 22 January that the number of street children had grown by 10 percent over the last three years in the republic, but the republic's press suggests that the actual number and growth rate are far higher than officials admit.

Authorities Fight Economic Crimes
Ufa investigated 9,000 economic crimes in 2000, officials said on 23 January. Most of them involved the fuel industry, finance and alcohol production, and all were in one way or another linked to organized crime.

Ufa to Design Passport Insert Cards
Bashkir PM Rafael Baydavletov signed the governmental decree on creating the State Commission for elaborating the draft inlay card for new Russian passports to be issued in the republic on 24 January. The 4-page card will display the republic's blazon and feature notes in state languages of BR � Bashkir and Russian. The committee chaired by Baydavletov himself is also to elaborate the card's design and settle it with the Heraldic Council under the Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2-3 months.

Federal Inspector Fights 'Sovereignization'
In an with on 25 January, chief federal inspector to Bashkortostan Rustem Khamitov said he has had "uneasy relations" with republic officials because Bashkortostan is saturate with "the spirit of sovereignization.� He said, however, that there should be no rush to destroy the treaty relations between the republic and the center because in that event, Russia would become a unitary state. He added that Moscow would not try to link Bashkortostan with the Volga area and separate it from the Ural region. And he suggested that problems about passports could be solved in February.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Marii El President Says Republic Freed From Criminal Influence...
Marii El President Leonid Markelov on 19 January told the Nizhni Novgorod telegraph agency that his republic is freed from criminal enterprises, that the press is free as well, and that wage arears will be paid up in full in this year. He praised the work of the law enforcement agencies in this process and said their back wages would be paid within two months.

Marii El Names Representative to Federation Council
President Leonid Markelov on 24 January nominated Aleksandr Torshin, secretary of the credit restructuring agency and a Moscow resident, to be the republic's representative in the Federation Council, reported. His candidacy is slated to be confirmed by the State Assembly on 26 January.

Chuvash Cases Before Russian Constitutional Court
The Russian Constitutional Court has agreed to hear two inquiries President Nikolai Fedorov about laws reforming executive agencies in Chuvashia, RBC reported on 24 January. He objects to provisions allowing governors to dissolve legislative bodies and allowing the Russian president to dismiss subject heads. Fedorov argued that these laws violate constitutional norms. Fedorov earlier expressed his doubts about the judicial independence of the Constitutional Court, suggesting that its members are too subject to Kremlin influence.

Chuvash Foreign Trade Increases
Foreign trade turnover of the Chuvash republic rose by a third in 2000 to a total of $155 million, reported on 18 January. Imports rose by 75 percent. Germany, Canada, France, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine were the republic's main trade partners.

Patriarch Meets Mordovia's Merkushkin
Aleksii II on 24 January received Mordovian leader Nikolai Merkushkin, the patriarchate press service reported. Saransk and Mordovia Bishop Varsonofii was in attendance.

Mordovia Residents Unhappy With Low Salaries...
Mordovia Labor and Employment Minister Lyudmila Ivanova on 25 January said that per capita incomes in the republic are 50 percent lower than the Russian average, Stolitsa S reported. She said that some 40,000 had tried to quick because of low salaries and that unemployment amounted to two percent of the workforce. Some 95 percent of the jobless are women.

...And Lack of Hot Water
Energy suppliers on 25 January reduced almost by half the temperature of hot water provided to the Saransk residential areas because of debts of municipal authorities to the city's central heating system, reported. The body officials said that they would not raise the temperature before debts were paid -- despite the low temperatures.

Udmurtia Customs 2000 Results
Udmurtia customs board official on 24 January said that the body collected over the past year some 700 million rubles of customs payments, the total sum of which was transferred to the federal budget. Among the payments for export of production, 75 percent made oil export payments, and the rest part - timber, ferrous and non-ferrous metals export payments.

Shamanov Worried about AIDS
Ulyanovsk governor Vladimir Shamanov on 17 January has set up an oblast committee to fight AIDS. HIV infections have increased 60 times there over the last year, VolgaInform reported. Most of those infected are from the 13,000 drug users in the region.

Anonymous Caller Threats Shamanov
Ulyanovsk interior officials told Interfax on 25 January that an anonymous caller had alerted the police about supposed preparations for an attempt on the life of Governor Vladimir Shamanov.

UES Sets Limits on Ulyanovskenergo
Russia's United Energy Systems on 22 January reduced by 20 percent its energy deliveries to Ulyanovskenergo, VolgaInform reported. The regional energy company then announced that it in turn would restrict deliveries to large local companies, which have not paid their bills.

Ulyanovsk Leaders Ignore Lenin Death Anniversary
For the first time, Ulyanovsk oblast and municipal authorities on 21 January did not mark the anniversary of the Vladimir Lenin's death, reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova