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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 26, 2005

26 January 2005
Government Briefs On Social Support Measures
Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva told a cabinet briefing devoted to the social-benefits reform on 25 January that 1.1 billion rubles ($40 million) will be allocated by the republic for additional subsidies to people who previously received in-kind benefits, Tatarinform and reported the same day. Welieva admitted that the "psychology of elderly people" who "mostly didn't realize what was going on" had not been taken into account when the reform was launched. Deputy Transport Minister Pavel Chernov said 900,000 Tatarstan residents will be able to apply to purchase a social transport pass that will cost 200 rubles and may be used in all cities and towns in the republic. He reported that audits will be held in Tatarstan's transport companies to estimate if transport tariffs are reasonable.

Housing Minister Marat Khosnullin said at the briefing that bills for housing and municipal services will be delivered to residents only after they are paid the corresponding subsidies. Khosnullin said the sums people pay for housing will "significantly grow" but added that average housing and municipal tariffs in the republic are 24.1 rubles per square meter, whereas the Russian average is 31.9 rubles per square meter. He said Tatarstan residents have accumulated 900 million rubles in debt for housing and municipal services, adding that that is why most housing companies face losses.

Phone Sex Lines Blocked In Kazan
The Kazan administration informed Tatarstan's Organization of Muslim Women that 40 telephone lines used by prostitution services have been blocked, Tatarinform reported on 25 January. The group had appealed to Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov and Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov to demand that Kazan be cleaned of posters for sexual services. Reportedly, 105 similar telephone lines have been targeted by the Kazan Interior Ministry department. In addition, 17 people were arrested as they were putting up adds for sexual services. All were fined 500 rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Motherland In Bashkortostan Separate From Radical Opposition Demands
The leader of Motherland party in Bashkortostan, Aleksandr Kozlov, told a news conference in Ufa on 25 January that the republican branch of the party supports the five Motherland deputies in the State Duma who are hunger striking to protest the "antisocial policy" of the Russian government and the perceived arbitrariness of officials who initiated and implemented the federal law transforming in-kind social benefits into cash payments, RosBalt and Bashinform reported the same day.

However, he said, party members in Bashkortostan will not join the hunger strike but will prepare for the "continuation of 'fighting actions'" by maintaining unity. Kozlov said republican party members plan to hold 12 authorized pickets on 27 January in Ufa to demand the abolition of the benefits-reform law.

Kozlov added that he does not support the political demands of participants in a 22 January protest in Ufa and did not sign the resolution that emerged from that demonstration. "I strongly disagree with the demand for the dismissal of the Russian and Bashkir governments," he said. "We only insist on the dismissal of people guilty of [implementing] the unprepared monetization of benefits in the country -- of [Economic Development and Trade Minister German] Gref, [Finance Minister Aleksei] Kudrin, and [Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail] Zurabov. We insist not on a change of power but on improving the conditions of life."

Pressure has also increased recently on senior republican officials following suggestions that security forces were guilty of widespread abuse during mid-December raids in Blagoveshchensk, ostensibly in a crackdown following alleged attacks on interior employees.

Participants in the 22 January demonstration in Ufa called for the resignation of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and the dismissals of Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev and the governments of Bashkortostan and Russia. Kozlov said he perceives "extremely negatively" the demand for Rakhimov's resignation, arguing that he "supports his course and highly appraises achievements" in the preservation and development of several sectors, including agroindustry, refining, and construction.

Seniors' Transport Passes To Cost 150 Rubles
A reduced-fare, 150-ruble ($5.35) transport pass will be introduced in Bashkortostan for all pensioners, RosBalt and Bashinform reported on 25 January. The pass will allow holders to use all types of public transport on city and suburban routs. The move was approved at a Bashkir government session the same day.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova