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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 14, 2004

14 January 2004
Tatar Public Groups Concerned With TV And Radio Programs
The presidium of Tatar Public Center (TIU), the Megarif society, and Tatarstan's Board of the Elderly issued a statement on 13 January claiming that the content broadcast by the republic's TV and radio "did not respond to the requirements of their audience." The groups said that before the December State Duma elections, Tatar state TV and radio daily programs were reduced by 1 1/2 hours to make room for political commercials, but after the elections the programming schedule was not changed. On the other hand, some commercial radio stations in Tatarstan were accused of "limiting their programs to music and greetings, while withholding news about developments in the republic and the country."

The Tatar organizations reportedly will also hold a conference on 22 January involving local TV and radio broadcasters, public figures, artists, writers, and journalists to discuss the implementation of Tatarstan's law on languages, which gives both Russian and Tatar official status.

Meanwhile, the TIU leadership is currently divided over the conflict between its most recent leader, Reshit Yegeferov, and former leader Zeki Zeinullin, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 14 January. For example, the 9 January issue of the "Zvezda Povolzhya" weekly published a TIU resolution by Zeinullin's supporters dismissing Yegeferov. Nevertheless, on 10 January Yegeferov represented the TIU a the demonstration in Chally supporting local TIU branch leader Refis Kashapov, who is currently in detention (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 January 2003). On 15 January the TIU presidium will gather for an emergency meeting to consider the current situation around its leadership.

President Approves Amendments To Administrative Code And Signs Law On IT Development
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev endorsed the amendments to Tatarstan's Administrative Violations Code, stipulating possible sanctions against misuse of republican and municipal funds, as well as the law on Tatarstan's information-resources and information-technology development, the presidential press service announced on 14 January.

Kazan Police Seize Major Heroin Shipment
Kazan police seized about 15 kilograms of heroin aboard a vehicle searched during a regular inspection at a traffic checkpoint, RIA-Novosti reported on 13 January. The vehicle's driver was a 42-year-old man. It was not reported whether the shipment was in transit through Tatarstan or its destination was Kazan.

Interior Ministry Says Drug-Related Crime Among Teenagers Up
Despite an overall drop of 5 percent in Tatarstan's crime rate among teenagers in 2003, the number of drug-related crimes doubled, Intertat reported on 13 January, citing the Interior Ministry. More than 3,300 felonies were committed by teenagers, with fewer murders and rapes than the year before.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

NIKoil Changes Name To UralSib
NIKoil President Nikolai Tsvetkov told reporters on 13 January that the financial corporation will adopt the name UralSib, "Vremya novostei" and "Vedomosti" reported the next day. The decision will be made at a board meeting on 14 January. NIKoil's insurance subdivision, NIKoil Insurance, also announced on 13 January that it renamed itself on 9 January into the UralSib Insurance Group. Last year, the managements of NIKoil and UralSib agreed on a merger between Avtobank-NIKoil and the Bashkir bank, in which NIKoil purchased 14 percent. In late November, NIKoil began opening its offices within those of UralSib. Beginning in December, NIKoil representatives made up a majority in the UralSib Observation Council and NIKoil's top manager heads the bank. NIKoil assets, which include a registering company, a brokerage, a depository, a managing company, three insurance companies, and four banks, total 100 billion rubles ($3.5 billion). UralSib, which unites seven regional banks, has 75 billion rubles in assets.

Motherland Bloc's Bashkir Branch Promotes Direct Elections Of Administration Heads By Local Deputies
Bashkortostan's branch of the Motherland bloc has issued a statement protesting the system where raion administration heads are nominated by the Bashkir president and local council's presidiums to the local councils, Regnum reported on 13 January. The statement, signed by branch leader Aleksandr Kozlov, said this is undemocratic and called for direct elections by local councils as prescribed by federal law. Local election laws will be harmonized with the federal ones by 1 November 2005, so local bodies elected in March will be temporary and will have to be re-elected in the near future. The Motherland branch suggested that the existing norms of local legislation about the election of administration heads be frozen until it is harmonized with federal law.

Budget Revenue Increases...
In 2003, Bashkortostan received 74.5 billion rubles, or 12.6 billion rubles more than the previous year, in budget revenue, Bashinform reported on 13 January. The republic transferred 36.5 billion rubles to the federal budget, 1.6 billion rubles more than the previous year, while the republic's consolidate budget received 37.9 billion rubles, or 40 percent more than in 2002.

...As Does Machine-Building Production
Machine-building production in Bashkortostan grew by 20.3 percent in 2003 as compared to the previous year, Bashinform reported on 13 January. Specifically, the Bashkir Trolley-Bus Plant increased production by 80 percent to 150 vehicles, while bus production grew by 50 percent. Total industrial production rose in 2003 by 7.4 percent. Bashkortostan is among the leaders in the Urals-Volga region in terms of industrial growth, following only Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk oblasts.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova