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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 9, 2004

9 January 2004
GRP Grew 3.2 Percent In 2003
The Tatar Economy and Industry Ministry on 8 January released a report on the republic's socioeconomic development in 2003, according to which the republic's gross regional product rose by 3.2 percent to 300 billion rubles ($10.3 billion) as compared to 2002, industrial production grew by 4.1 percent to 250 billion rubles, while oil production rose by 1.2 percent to 28.2 million tons. Gross agricultural production increased by 1.8 percent to 5.1 billion rubles and grain production fell by 18 percent to 4.5 million tons. Investments in fixed capital increased by 1 percent to 76.1 billion rubles.

Tatarstan Not To Seek Loans
Tatarstan will not borrow money in 2004, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told a briefing on 8 January, Tatarinform reported the same day. Minnikhanov said the republic does not currently have any external debts but only state obligations, in particular, for KamAZ credits that are being repaid. According to the 2004 budget, the republic's maximum state debt is fixed at 9.8 billion rubles while obligations on state guarantees total 6 billion rubles. The 2004 budget deficit is expected to be 7 percent, or 2.8 billion rubles.

KamAZ Has Rough Year
KamAZ recorded uncovered losses in the first 11 months of 2003 of 185.5 million rubles, while in the same period the previous year the automaker made 1 million rubles in profit, RBK reported on 8 January. Production grew in the same period by 19.7 percent to 22 billion rubles, while truck sales increased by 21.9 percent to 21,849. The company's debt increased from 4.5 million rubles in early 2003 to 6 million rubles by 31 November. On 27 October, the KamAZ board of directors reduced the company's planned net profit for 2003 from 112 million rubles, as initially set in the business plan, to 92 million rubles because KamAZ faced extra expenses of 681 million rubles in the first nine months of the year.

Authorities To Help Orthodox Church Restore Historical Buildings
The republic's government will help the Orthodox Church restore the St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral and the Kizicheskii monastery in Kazan and move an office of the Eparchy's managing body from Kazan's outskirts to the downtown, Regnum-VolgaInform reported on 8 January. An agreement was reached at a meeting between Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan on the eve of the Orthodox Christmas on 6 January.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

World Bashkir Congress Executive Suggests Non-Bashkirs Should Leave Bashkortostan...
World Bashkir Congress Chief Executive Ekhmet Solimenov told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 8 January that according to his figures, during the 7 and 21 December presidential elections the Tatar-populated regions of Bashkortostan voted "mostly" for incumbent Murtaza Rakhimov. He said that during the first round, Relif Safin won a majority only in the Ilesh and Durtile regions because he was born in that area.

Soleimenov added that "surprisingly," Mari, Chuvash, Udmurt, and Mordovian peoples submitted few votes for Rakhimov. "If they consider themselves temporary residents here," he said, "they are welcome to leave, you have fatherlands to return to," referring to these peoples' ethnic republics. He explained this by saying, "Tatars, Mariis, Mordovians, Germans, and people from the Caucasus are immigrant peoples in Bashkortostan and we [Bashkirs] are a native, state-forming ethnic group."

...Condemns Those Bashkirs Who Did Not Vote For Rakhimov...
Solimenov also said that "among Bashkirs there were also those who sold themselves to [opposition candidates Sergei] Veremeenko and [Relif] Safin and what stuns me the most is our [Bashkir] intelligentsia, lawyers, philosophers, and historians did not explain the importance of the presidential vote to the people."

...And Argues Against New Status For Tatar Language
Solimenov also commented on Rakhimov's pre-election pledge to grant special status to the Tatar language in Bashkortostan, where Tatars are the second-largest ethnic group after Russians, while only the Bashkir and Russian languages have official status. Soleimenov said, "In this case, every nationality living in Bashkortostan will demand official status for its language," and asked rhetorically, "If so, what kind of state will it be?"

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi