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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 27, 2005

27 January 2005
Parliament Amends Law On Social Benefits
The State Council passed on 26 January amendments to the law on social benefits, and Tatarinform reported the same day. The amendment adjusts the amounts of monetary compensation for abolished in-kind social benefits: 200 rubles ($7) to labor veterans, 250 rubles to victims of political repression, 300 rubles World War II labor veterans and rehabilitated people, and 1,800 and 2,300 rubles to orphans under and above 7 years old, respectively. Subsidies of three rubles a day will be allocated for feeding schoolchildren and students of professional schools. The amendment will require additional spending of some 1.2 billion rubles.

Meanwhile, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 27 January, average tariffs on housing and municipal services rose in Tatarstan by 60 percent as of 1 January, while heating and hot-water tariffs increased by 240 percent.

Metal Trade Holding Formed In Tatarstan
The Kazan managing company TatInk announced on 26 January the establishment of the Bulgary holding company consolidating stakes in leading Tatar metal suppliers Tatmetall and Kamsnab, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 27 January. TatInk General Director Vladimir Kiryashin told the daily that Bulgary holding will control 70 percent of Tatmetall and over 50 percent of Kamsnab. Tatmetall, one of Russia's top 10 metal traders with 60.6 million rubles in capital, announced 85 million-ruble net profit in the first nine months of 2004. Kamsnab, with capital of 1.5 million rubles, announced net profit of 35 million rubles in the same period.

The daily cited unidentified local analysts as commenting that the merger of two leading traders may result in the establishment of a monopoly on the republic's metal market.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Court Upholds Fines Against Ufa Oil Refineries
Russia's Supreme Arbitration Court presidium has ruled that Ufaneftekhim, Ufa Oil Refinery, and Novo-Ufimskii Oil Refinery must pay the federal government roughly 12 billion rubles ($427 million) in underpaid taxes and penalties, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 January. The Federal Tax Service (FNS) accused the Bashkir companies of failing to pay taxes between April 2001 and January 2002 through agreements with the Bort-M and Korus-Baikonur companies registered in Kazakhstan's Baikonur off-shore zone (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 February, 13 and 20 March, 26 May, 6 June, 17, 18 and 23 July, 24 October 2003 and 9 April and 20 October 2004, "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 March 2003).

In 2003, the Russian Tax Ministry (MNS) claimed Ufaneftekhim owed 2.2 billion rubles, Ufa Oil Refinery owed 5.8 billion rubles, and Novo-Ufimskii Oil Refinery owed over 4 billion rubles in unpaid taxes and penalties. The companies won three suits against MNS in the Bashkir Arbitration Court, the Bashkir Arbitration Court Appeals Board, and the Ural Federal District Arbitration Court. FNS Bashkir legal department head Artur Kheiretdinov told the daily that the amounts owed by the plants may change since the court has ruled that the refineries' fines must be recounted.

Meanwhile, the FNS will hold an audit of Bashneft, Ufaneftekhim, Ufa Oil Refinery, and Novo-Ufimskii Oil Refinery for 2002-04, Interfax reported on 26 January, citing an unidentified source. The source commented that "it has been decided to thoroughly look into Bashkortostan."

Signatures Supporting Referendum To Elect Local Administration Heads Collected
The chairman of Bashkortostan's Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy and the head of Bashkortostan's Tatar civic groups union, Ramil Bignov, said on 26 January that signatures for holding a referendum to support direct elections of city and raion administration heads have been collected in 15 raions and 20 cities and towns in Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Bignov was speaking at a meeting of the coordinating council formed by opposition parties and groups that organized a 22 January protest in Ufa. Bignov said the Bashkir Central Election Commission (USK), which refused to accept signatures from Agidel residents on 24 January, begin accepting them on 25 January, only after referendum initiators appealed to the prosecutor's office. By 26 January, some 10 cities and towns have submitted collected signatures to the USK, Bignov said.

Meeting participants condemned local official media outlets, including "Vechernyaya Ufa," "Respublika Bashkortostan," and "Kyzyl tang" for articles defaming initiators and participants in the 22 January demonstrations that attracted 5,000 participants.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova