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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 5, 2005

5 January 2005
Shaimiev Looks Back At 2004, Prospects In 2005
In an interview with Interfax on 31 December, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said the administrative reform on the election of governors and the monetization of in-kind benefits were the main events of the year ending. Shaimiev said that, unlike regional administrations, federal ones have not been properly reformed, as a result of which there is no due and efficient interaction between the two levels of administration. He also said Russia's economic strategy should be aimed at the efficient growth of gross domestic product rather than doubling it. Shaimiev predicted trouble in the first half of the year when people begin to really feel all the consequences of the monetization of benefits coinciding with an increase in housing and municipal-services tariffs and inflation. He added that an absence of common standards for monetary compensation in all the regions will result in violations of the rights of residents.

Shaimiev said 2004 will be remembered in Tatarstan as the end of the eight-year slum-clearing program under which one in 10 Tatar residents saw improved living conditions. As part of the social-mortgage construction program presented at the end of 2004, the cost of mortgages will be reduced by 30 percent and credits will be provided for the term of 28.5 years under 7 percent interest, down from 14-15 percent in ordinary mortgage schemes.

Compensation For Tuqai Award Increased
President Shaimiev signed on 31 December a decree on the Gabdulla Tuqai state award, under which monetary payment to award laureates will be increased to 300,000 rubles ($10,800), reported on 4 January, citing the presidential press service. Three awards named after the prominent Tatar poet will be awarded annually for outstanding achievements in literature and arts. Previously its monetary prize was a hundred minimum wages, which was raised to 720 rubles as of 1 January. The award was established in 1958.

Chally Enterprise Wins National Competition
The Chally Cardboard and Paper Factory (KBK) was awarded the "leader of the Russian economy" prize as part of the third national competition among organizations of high social efficiency, reported on 4 January. The results of the competition were announced in the Kremlin attended by President Vladimir Putin. In the past five years, KBK has more than doubled production and increased salaries more than fourfold. The average monthly salary at the company is 15,000 rubles ($541).

Chally Pension Payments To Rise 36 Percent
Payments to Chally pensioners will increase in 2005 by 1.06 billion rubles to 2.9 billion rubles, reported on 4 January, citing Chally's Pension Fund head Vera Osetrina. In 2004, 1.84 billion rubles were paid in pensions in the city to 91,527 pensioners, while in 2003, the figure was 1.54 billion rubles.

Meanwhile, 15,000 Chally residents have applied for subsidies for housing and municipal services, Regnum reported on 4 January. People below the poverty level are provided those subsidies. They numbered 9,000 in 2004, but are expected to reach 60,000 in 2005.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

TV Analyst Calls For Abolition Of National Republics
In a comment published by on 3 January, ORT political observer Mikhail Leontev backed President Vladimir Putin's recently approved reform abolishing elections for regional leaders in favor of Kremlin nominations. Leontev said Russia's current administrative-territorial division is "completely unnatural." Russian federalism, he continued, is "thought up" and currently functions as a "big, global provocation against the country."

Leontev also praised the administrative reform as a step toward a merger of regions "to the degree that they become manageable." Leontev called ethnic republics an "absurd creation of Leninism," adding that they should be abolished. He said he believes that "no true ethnic republics have existed for a long time," since they are "either multiethnic or transnational [entities] in general." Leontev said that it would be necessary to revise the borders of ethnic republics or to create ethnic republics in other places -- for example, in Moscow -- on an annual basis in order to keep up with demographic factors. Or "it would be necessary to change the territory of Bashkiria, which is populated predominantly by Tatars," he said.

22 Tatar-Language Books Printed By Kitap...
The republican-run Kitap publishing house issued 22 Tatar-language books in 2004, Bashinform reported on 28 December. The issue was on the agenda of a roundtable at the publishing house devoted to the literature of Bashkortostan's various peoples. If in 1994-2000, 53 Tatar-language books were issued with a combined print run of 253,500; in 2001-04, their number reached 61, with a combined print run of 235,000 copies. Some 200 Tatar writers currently work with the Kitap publishing house.

...As Opposition Newspapers Driven Out Of Republic
Nurmokhemmet Gylajetdinov, editor in chief of "Birskaya gazeta" founded last April, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 4 January that the Bashkortostan's Boro (Birsk) printing house still refuses to print the opposition newspaper, which is being published in Perm Oblast. An open letter to the newly appointed Boro administration head to permit its publication in that city remains unanswered, Gylajetdinov said. The town's previous administration head and his deputies -- who were recently dismissed -- initiated a halt to newspaper's printing in Perm Oblast's Barda Raion printing house after the first four issues, which contained articles critical of Boro authorities. The newspaper was forced into a two-month hiatus before reaching an agreement with a printing house in the town of Chernushka in Perm Oblast, where 10 more issues have been published.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova