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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 30, 2001


30 November 2001
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Russian Weekly Notes That President Is Eligible For Another Term
Russian weekly "Argumenty i Fakty" wrote in its 28 November issue that existing federal legislation allows Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, another term in office. The Russian State Duma in late 2000 passed a law limiting regional leaders to two terms, calculated from 1999 but not including previous terms. Shaimiev was first elected Tatarstan president in 1991, and was re-elected again in 1996 and 2001. "Argumenty i Fakty" said he can seek the presidency again in 2006, and if successful could spend a total of 20 years as head of the republic.

President Murtaza Rakhimov of Bashkortostan, Ruslan Aushev of Ingushetia, and Valerii Kokov of Kabardino-Balkaria were reported to have similar electoral opportunities.

Tatar Youth Face Language Barrier When Discussing Problems
Tatar Youth leaders representing the Tatar diaspora in Russian regions and CIS countries opted to speak Russian at a seminar at the Kazan cultural center on 28 November, due to insufficient knowledge of their native language. Activists participating in the seminar said major obstacles included organizing courses in Tatar and maintaining ties with countrymen living in other parts of the world.

Not A Single Kopeck Spent On Script Reform So Far
The Budget Committee of Tatarstan's State Council revealed on 27 November that no state funds had been spent so far on implementing a government bill on transition to Latin-Tatar script, RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported. In the draft republican budget for next year, 29 million rubles ($970,000) is earmarked for implementing the reform in 2002.

KamAZ Praised For Progress, Expected To Increase Output In 2002
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov met senior managers of KamAZ automotive concern in Chally on 27 November to sum up the results of a recent audit by the Control-Revision Board, Tatarstan's media reported. Minnikhanov praised what he called positive developments at KamAZ, which managed to increase its share in the republic's industrial output from 6.7 percent in 1999 to 8.3 percent in 2001.

For his part, CRB Chairman Vladimir Nikolaev in his report noted the "difficult financial situation" at the concern. He cited a deficit of operating funds caused by numerous unplanned expenses and non-monetary transactions with customers.

The KamAZ general director informed the meeting that in 2002 Tatarstan's automotive giant planned to produce 23.9 billion rubles ($979 million) worth of vehicles and spare parts, while this year production should total some 17.3 billion rubles ($579 million).

Speaking at a press conference after the event, Prime Minister Minnikhanov said, "Despite all the hardships, it is most important that with the present transparency of KamAZ financial mechanisms, we can see every ruble applied for and spent by the managers."

HIV Claims More Victims Among Youth
Tatarstan Health Ministry official Yelena Pavlova said on 28 November that 2,524 HIV carriers were detected in Tatarstan during the first 10 months of 2001, a figure which is four times higher than the previous year's statistics. Currently the number of HIV-positive individuals totals roughly 4,000. The majority of HIV carriers in Tatarstan (67 percent) are 20-29 years old, while 20 percent are teenagers aging from 12 to 19. Rural areas such as Leninogorsk, Aznakay, Kama Tamagi, and Sarman are reported to have growing HIV figures due to spreading drug addiction, while its previous spread was attributed to urban areas as Kazan, Chally, Bogelme, and Elmet.

Police Seize More Drugs In 2001
Yevgenii Gatsuk, secretary of the special commission on opposing drug addiction and trafficking, said on 28 November that due to the growing efficiency of law-enforcement bodies in Tatarstan, some 40 kilograms of heroin was confiscated in 2001 by October, the same amount that police seized in all of 2000.

New Passport Distribution Deadline Hits Complications
A recent decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin that moves the deadline for new Russian passport distribution from late 2005 to late 2003 shocked senior officials of Tatarstan's passport-visa service, "Vechernaya Kazan" reported on 27 November. Only 14 percent of the republic's residents so far have exchanged their documents, the paper added. According to other media outlets in Tatarstan, the republic will manage to provide its residents with new passports in the given term, since distribution began less than six months ago. In other Russian regions, only 20 percent of those populations have received new identification documents in the past four years.

Government Worried About Growing Theft At Tatneft
During a government meeting devoted to theft from Tatneft oil company in Elmet on 27 November, Interior Minister Asgat Safarov said the "isolationist position of the company's security service frequently prevents interior bodies from effectively combating the theft of oil and equipment containing base metals." Prime Minister Minnikhanov, chairing the meeting, urged Tatneft and police chiefs to cooperate in curbing the thefts "because anything stolen from Tatneft is a theft from the Republic of Tatarstan and its people."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

WEEKLY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Nemtsov Says War Cannot Solve Problems In Chechnya, Afghanistan...
Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) leader Boris Nemtsov met with the supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, Talgat Tadjuddin, to discuss the agenda of an upcoming conference of Russian Muslims on the topic of fighting terrorism, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 25 November. Nemtsov said he proposed Tadjuddin initiating a political process in Chechnya and stating that the Afghan problem cannot be solved by military means but requires humanitarian aid and educational and information projects that can be delivered as well to the Muslim world. If Russia and the West do not understand this, we will never be able to fight terrorism, Nemtsov said.

...Criticizes Moscow Efforts To Take More From Regions...
SPS leader Nemtsov also sharply criticized the redistribution of budget revenues between Moscow and regions -- from 60-40 percent during Boris Yeltsin�s presidency -- in Moscow's favor. Nemtsov said the trend will lead to the impoverishment of the country as it results in growing taxes and cost of living, especially in urban areas. Meanwhile, Russia loses $20 billion every year in bribes, he said. He called for an increase in wages for state officials as a way to fight corruption.

...And Promotes Federal Relations In Russia
Nemtsov also told a press conference in Ufa on 22 November that Russia can exist only as a federative state, adding it was the idea of federalism that maintained Russia's integrity in early 1990s. If Boris Yeltsin had not granted territorial entities sweeping powers, Russia might now be divided into numerous independent entities fighting among themselves.

Nemtsov insisted the heads of local executive bodies must be elected rather than appointed by governors. He voiced skepticism over the recent Civil Forum held in Moscow, saying, "There is nothing bad [coming] from members of human rights organizations, dog-breeders, and stamp collectors meeting together to discuss any issues."

Duma Initiates Probe Into Supreme Mufti's Contacts With Bin Laden's Family
Duma Deputy Vladimir Semenov (SPS) initiated an inquiry from the Duma Security Committee to the Federal Security Service about financial relations between Talgat Tadjuddin, Russia and European CIS countries' supreme mufti, with the brother of Osama bin Laden, "NG-religii" reported on 28 November. Semenov told the paper that his move was a response to recent reports in the media about such contacts. He expressed doubts that Tadjuddin had received only $20,000 from Tariq bin Laden, as was reported, and allocated it to the construction of mosques. Semenov called Tadjuddin's anti-Wahhabi statements a "demagogic farce" addressed at rivals, who are moderate and "not terrorists any more than he is."

Deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) said Semenov's inquiry is reminiscent of 1937, adding that it was initiated by a representative of SPS, the faction which is expected to promote "freedom, the presumption of innocence, and �human rights."

Independent Deputy Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov told the newspaper that the investigation into Tadjuddin's relations with bin Laden was part of an anti-Islamic campaign by the mass media. Niyazov said he supports Tadjuddin in this situation, even though they disagree in many other areas.

Government Says Gas Pipelines To Be Finished In Five Years
An official from the Construction Ministry, Georgii Bykov, told a government presidium meeting that 74 percent of the republic's residential areas have gas infrastructure and that 14,000 kilometers more of pipeline should be constructed to finish this work, Bashinform reported on 23 November. Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov said that not all families in residential areas where pipelines reached have the money to connect to them, and called on local administrations to find suitable solutions.

Bashkortostan Authorities Promote Construction Of Bashkir Nuclear Power Station
Bashkortostan's leaders initiated a project on unfreezing the construction of the Bashkir Nuclear Power Station and personally appealed to the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry with such a proposal, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 23 November. The issue is a controversial one in the republic, as some public forces consider it may threaten the safety of Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and other neighboring regions.

Bashkortostan Public Organizations Said Now Weaker Than A Decade Ago
Aleksandr Veselov, the head of an environmental non-profit organizations union and a delegate of the 21-22 November Civil Forum, told Bashinform that some 3,000 non-profit organizations have been registered in Bashkortostan. But he added that they are disorganized and weak compared to their counterparts in other regions. However, in the late 1980s, he said, they managed to stop construction in the republic of the Ishtugan reserve, the Bashkir Nuclear Power Stations, and other "harmful projects." Veselov proposed a permanent roundtable of republican public organizations and development of relations between public organizations and state bodies.

Youth Policy Chairwoman Warns Against Empty Promises In Family-Assistance Bill
Kamila Davletova, chairwoman of the Russian state committee on youth policy, on 28 November warned Bashkortostan's legislators against repeating their Russian counterparts' mistake in passing a bill offering assistance to young families. Davletova suggested the federal program was not working, since it "doesn't stipulate any budgetary [funds], so therefore has only a declarative character."

The Bashkortostan State Assembly is expected to debate a similar republican bill by 1 January following a request and accompanying decree from President Rakhimov. Neighboring Tatarstan adopted a similar law in 1997, proclaiming interest-free, long-term housing loans to families under 30 and forestalling repayment to those families with children.

Bashkreditbank Takes Over Udmuria's Eurasia Bank
Bashkreditbank bought a 75 percent stake in Izhevsk-based Eurasia bank, "Vedomosti" reported on 26 November. Bashkreditbank is the 14th largest Russian bank by capital with 4.2 billion rubles ($140.5 million), while Eurasia's capital is 311th largest at 61.3 million rubles ($2 million).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova and Iskender Nurmi

WEEKLY REVIEW FROM IDEL-URAL REGION
Rivals Accuse Chuvashia's President Of Violations
The Chuvash Republic's five presidential candidates -- Duma Deputy (KPRF) Valentin Shurchanov, FSB General Lieutenant Stanislav Voronov, Union of Rightist Forces in Mordovia leader Nikolai Grigoryev, Afghanistan veterans leader Igor Kashaev, and Poretsk brick-plant General Manager Vladimir Maiorov -- appealed to President Vladimir Putin to protest against what they described as "constant violations of electoral legislation by incumbent President Nikolai Fedorov," strana.ru reported on 23 November. The signatories said that the Chuvashia's presidential administration, the State Council, and the Central Electoral Commission are illegally boosting Fedorov's chances of victory in the coming election.

MVD Official Convicted Of Taking Bribe
A Yoshkar-Ola court sentenced Anatolii Tsaregorodtsev, the Foreign Affairs Ministry representative to Yoshkar-Ola, to a one-year suspended sentence for accepting a $110 bribe, regions.ru reported on 27 November. The verdict also forbids Tsaregorodtsev from serving as a state official.

Mordovian Parliament Appoints Federation Council Senators
Mordovia's State Assembly on 22 November appointed Leonid Nevzlin, the YuKOS oil company's deputy board chairman, and German Petrov, a deputy presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, as republican representatives to the Federation Council, agencies reported. Neither man works or lives in Mordovia.

Ford Foundation Finances Alternative Service Project
The Henry Ford Foundation has allocated $42,500 toward an experiment in Nizhnii Novgorod to introduce alternative civil service, the Nizhnii Novgorod news service reported on 27 November. Under the project, 30 such "recruits" will be provided with uniforms and three meals a day during the 12-month service.

Russian Officers In Chechnya Said Sell Each Other To Chechens
Imran Ezhiev, a member of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Organization in Chechnya, told a news conference in Nizhnii Novgorod on 26 November that Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Boryaev may be still alive, as there is no evidence of his death. Ezhiev said Boryaev has a good chance of surviving if he was detained by a Chechen volunteer corps rather than by fighters under leaders Raduev or Khattab.

Ezhiev claimed that Boryaev's fellow servicemen likely helped in his kidnapping. Ezhiev said his organization gathered evidence during two Chechen wars of representatives of Russian troops in Chechnya "selling" their comrades to Chechens.

District Official Unhappy With Split Within Muslim Community
Vladimir Zorin, a deputy presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, said a split within the district's Muslim community is cause for concern, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 23 November. Some 40 percent of Russia's Muslims live in the Volga district. His comments came at a conference on ethnography in Orenburg. Zorin stressed that no Wahhabism can be found in either side of the split, but a divide between Russia's Muslim leaders harms their image and may promote the spread of such non-traditional faiths from abroad. He said theological schools have been lost in Russia and should be revived both in Orthodoxy and Islam.

Perm Battles Tuberculosis Among Prison Population
An anti-MDR-tuberculosis project has been launched in Perm's penal institutions, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 27 November. The project's backers said some 3,000 prisoners in Perm Oblast suffer from MDR-tuberculosis, the form most resistant to medical treatment. Some 92 percent of victims were infected after they were detained.

Sverdlovsk Legislature Harmonizes Oblast Charter
The Sverdlovsk Oblast's Legislative Assembly on 27 November approved a law amending the oblast charter to bring it into line with federal legislation, UralBusinessConsulting reported. Paragraphs on referendums, the government system, and law-enforcement bodies have been harmonized. Prosecutors had warned the oblast legislature to dissolve itself if it failed to harmonize the charter.

Sverdlovsk Parliament Nominates Federation Council Member
The Sverdlovsk Oblast Legislative Assembly on 27 November elected Andrei Shmelev, previously the general manager at the Pervouralsk pipe plant, to be the legislature's representative to the Federation Council, "Novyi Region" reported.

Sverdlovsk Governor To Examine Domination Of Representatives From Caucasus On Sverdlovsk Oblast Markets
Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel said he will "look into" claims that shopkeepers from the Caucasus are crowding out local businessmen from the region's markets, Region-Inform reported on 28 November. Local businesspeople have reportedly complained that they are forced to trade "under the floor" due to a Caucasus-led cartel-like arrangement. Rossel promised to contact oblast Interior Board head Valerii Vorotnikov to resolve the issue, the agency said.

Officials, Alleging Libel, Attack Media
Perm Mayor Arkadii Kamenev sued the "Zvezda" editorial and journalist Natalya Kalyuzhnaya for publishing information that he says is untrue and defames him, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 28 November. Kamenev protested at statements by the former head of the Velta company and now an employee in the Russian presidential administration, Sergei Semenov, published by the newspaper. Kamenev is not suing Semenov.

Meanwhile, Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel said on 28 November that he will sue the editor in chief of "D.S.P.," Yana Porubova, for what he labels a "slanderous article" in the newspaper, Region-Inform reported.

Zhirinovsky Says Governors Linked To Underworld
Duma Deputy Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Yekaterinbirg's "Podrobnosti" that it is necessary to change the "team of regional leaders." The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader charged that a majority of the current governors came to power in 1990, when it was difficult to get by without violating laws. They therefore linked themselves to a criminal world, he concluded, and they should not be permitted to serve third and fourth terms.

Volga-Ural Military District Renovates Ammunition Stocks
Troops of the Volga-Ural military district will renew their weapons-projectile stocks by 2002, "Novyi Region" reported on 27 November. The agency cited officials from a commission investigating a recent tank explosion in the district as saying that the low quality of a shell was likely to blame in a blast that killed three soldiers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

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