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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 22, 2001

22 February 2001
Shaimiev Says Power Sharing Is Essential
President Mintimer Shaimiev commented on the present state of relations between Kazan and Moscow in his interview published on 20 February in "Kommersant Vlast." He said that power sharing was essential to the development of a democratic society even though working out the details of this is not always easy. He said that Tatarstan had found it difficult to declare its independence but that that action had helped push the process along. He said that some power sharing arrangements had worked while others had not. He called for allowing regions to decide land questions and also to determine what languages their heads should be required to speak.

Shaimiev's Power Sharing Concept Described
In an interview with on 19 February, presidential advisor Rafael Khakimov outlined the general provisions of the draft federal concept on power sharing elaborated by President Mintimir Shaimiev�s working group. He said they looked forward not to some kind of confederation as some Russian commentators have suggested but rather toward "a normal federation in the European sense." He said that the concept seeks to delimit the powers of both sides, and he warned that any Russian effort to unilaterally retract powers from Kazan "would inevitably destabilize the republic."

Tatar Delegation Joins The Ethnic Policy Deliberations
Tatar State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin on 16 February took part in Duma discussions on Russia's nationality policy. He said that the draft bill could exacerbate ethnic tensions in the country. Another delegation member, World Congress of Tatars executive committee chairman Indus Tahirov said that only respect for all ethnic groups could lead to stability. Communist and nationalist deputies sharply criticized Tatarstan's decision to use the Latin script, with LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky suggesting that Western governments and groups were pushing this idea. The Tatar delegation called on the Duma to allow the draft to be discussed at the regional level.

Tatarstan Avoids Far East-Style Heating Crisis
Tatarstan officials and the Tattransgas company worked together to prevent a heating crisis in the republic, reported on February 16. At the same time, Kazan indicated that some local officials had failed to shift from gas to other fuels as required when temperatures drop too low and said that those who failed to do so will be investigated by prosecutors.

Tuben Kama Oil Chemicals Buys Shares from Canadian Company
The Tuben Kama Oil Chemical Company bought the shares package in Yaro-Yakhin oil deposit in Tumen region from the Canadian Eurogas company. The deposit is estimated to contain 179 billion cubic meters of gas, 27 million tons of oil, and 18 million tons of gas condensate. No price was announced for the deal.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan Against Inclusion in Volga Federal District
President Murtaza Rakhimov on 16 February took part in a Greater Ural economic association board meeting in Chelyabinsk and spoke out against the inclusion of Bashkortostan in the Volga Federal District, Bashinform reported. Association President Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel spoke the restructuring of UES because "we have preserved the integrity of the country only because of the integrity of the energy system." The association also called on Moscow to support agricultural producers.

Former Bashkir Airlines Chief Arrested
Ufa police on 20 February arrested former general manager of Bashkir Airlines Vilmir Gaziev on charges of misappropriation of funds paid by Pakistan to lease four TU-154 airplanes, ITAR-TASS reported.

Ufa Repaying Back Wages
The State Statistics Committee reported that back wages in the republic had been reduced in 2000 by a third to 951 million rubles ($33 million), almost all of those remaining are owed by industrial concerns, Bashinform reported on 16 February.

Higher Institutions Must Be Reformed
Tamara Kireeva, the head of the State Science and Education Committee, said on 16 February that the republic must reform higher education to ensure that graduates can get jobs. She said that 20 percent of graduates are now unemployed. And she suggested that the government would have to provide more support for needy students and those pursuing advanced study.

Ufa Joins TACIS Anti-Drug Project
Ufa healthcare officials are participating in a TACIS-sponsored project to fight drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking, and HIV, Bashinform reported on 16 February.

Bashkortostan to Give Priority to Domestically Produced Machinery
The first deputy agriculture minister Farit Sirazetdinov on 16 February said that the government will seek to give priority to Russian-produced farm machinery both to save money and to promote domestic manufacturers.

Ufa Promotes Tourism with China
The cabinet has set up an interdepartmental commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov to develop visa-free tourist groups exchanges between Bashkortostan and China, Bashinform reported on 19 February.

Private Cancer Clinic Opens in Ufa
A private cancer clinic opened in Ufa on 15 February, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported. Former Bashkortostan businessman, now Yamal-Nenets autonomy okrug deputy governor Sergei Chernikov, who financed its construction, took part in the opening ceremony. Ufa officials said that the republic needs four more such centers, possible now because the State Assembly recently passed legislation protecting private medical providers.

Book Publishing Growing
The Press and Information Ministry announced that the number of books published in the republic had increased by 10 percent to 1815 titles and that their printruns had grown to 1.8 million copies, Bashinform reported on 21 February. But it said the percentage of books issued in Bashkir had declined.

Too Few Telephones to Meet Demand
Vladimir Chessky, the chief of the Ufa telephone network, said on 21 February that the company plans to provide phones for 40,000 new subscribers in 2001 but that it will be able to meet demand only after four years. Seventy-four percent of Ufa residents now have telephones but only 24 percent of rural people do.

More Bashkir Servicemen Die in Chechen Campaign
Vladimir Sibarchuk, deputy chairman of the committee on social protection of servicemen and their families, said on 15 February that 83 Bashkortostan servicemen had died during the current Chechen campaign compared to 144 lost during the first Russian campaign there, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported. The deaths have left 38 children in the republic without fathers, he said. In other comments, he said that Moscow had failed to pay at least 26 contract soldiers who had served in the North Caucasus.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chuvash President Urges Stepped Up Anti-Drug Campaign
President Nikolai Fedorov on 16 February called for the development of a state policy to fight drug addiction, reported. The number of drug addicts in the republic reportedly has trippled over the past three years to 3,000.

Chuvash Farms Rated Efficient
Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev on 16 February said that Chuvash agriculture is one of 15 federal subjects whose agricultural production is growing.

Marii El Nationalist Leaders Upset by Ethnic Policies
Marii national leaders sharply criticized a statement by education minister Galina Shvetsova that Marii should be studied in schools "on a voluntary basis," reported on 18 February. Nikandr Popov, head of Marii national organization Marii Ushem, said that rights of Marii children are thus violated because they are deprived of the opportunity of studying their mother tongue beyond the fourth grade.

Marii El Businessman On Trial
A Yoshkar-Ola city court on 22 February opened a trial against businessman Aleksandr Odintsov, the owner of several republic enterprises including Pembin glass-works and one of the sponsors of former President Vyacheslav Kislitsyn�s 1996 electoral campaign, reported. He is charged with forgery and making a false bankruptcy declaration.

Mordovia Leader To Head FC Working Group
The Federation Council appointed Nikolai Merkushkin to chair a working group which is to develop amendments to federal laws on financing roads, reported on 21 February.

Nizhny Novgorod Wants Off-Shore Firms to Pay Taxes
Nizhny Novgorod Mayor Yuri Lebedev has initiated investigation into work of 47 companies which have been registered in offshore zones in order to get these companies to pay taxes, reported on 20 February.

District Officials Worried about Chemical Weapons
Volga Federal District spokesman Sergei Novikov on 20 February said that the main task of his office current year is the destruction of chemical weapons, RBC reported. Deputy District head Valentin Stepankov on 22 February said that a Saratov chemical-weapons destruction facility will begin operation within 18 months.

Germany Helps Saratov Fight Tuberculosis
German Consul General Karl Vokalek on 21 February said that his country will allocate DM500,000 ($250,000) for Saratov Oblast to fight tuberculosis, reported.

Udmurtia Deputy Prime Minister Confirmed
The parliament on 20 February agreed to the appointment of Udmurtnefteprodukt general manager Andrei Oskolkov as republic deputy Prime Minister in charge of economics, Udmurtia agency reported. Oskolkov received 51 votes, one more than the minimum required. He said that his main concern will be a support for small businesses and that his deputy Andrei Shutov will likely replace him as the general manager. The legislature also passed laws on Udmurtia State Council and government. The same day, President Aleksandr Volkov nominated Andrei Galtsin, formerly youth affairs state committee, as deputy head of presidential administration in charge of public information.

Udmurtia Legislators Fight Drug Traders
Mikhail Kokorin, head of the State Council legal affairs committee, on 22 February called on the population to work together with his committee to identify and arrest drug dealers, the Udmurtia agency reported. He said that interior ministry officials had failed to act harshly enough against this plague.

Ulyanovsk Legislators Elected
Five Ulyanovsk oblast Legislative assembly deputies and 13 Ulyanovsk city duma deputies were elected on 18 February, RIA-Novosti reported. The elections were required after duma members resigned in protest of the appointment last year of Communist deputy Oleg Kazarov as deputy mayor.

Ulyanovsk To Cooperate With Atomic Energy Ministry
The Russian Atomic Energy Ministry and the Ulyanovsk administration signed a cooperation agreement, reported on 20 February.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova