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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 27, 2004

27 January 2004
Security Council Focuses On Private Business Development
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev joined a Tatarstan Security Council meeting on 26 January to discuss business development in the republic and attempts to attract foreign investment, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Shaimiev said that his government is dissatisfied with the republic's economic performance in 2003, in which industrial output rose 4.7 percent compared to the previous year, but the growth was mainly powered by the petrochemical sector, while other industrial branches had little or no growth.

The president also mentioned that the republican budget annually loses 5 billion rubles ($172.4 million) to the "gray" employment market, which hired some 600,000 people without following legal employment practices and largely not paying taxes. Some 300,000 employees in companies in Tatarstan are said to work without contracts, while 500,000 more receive a portion of their salaries under the table.

Tatar First Deputy Premier Rawyl Moratov told the same meeting that republican and federal governments should intensify efforts to protect domestic producers, especially in agriculture. He also noted that along with measures that simplify registration for private businesses, Tatarstan is developing a network of "Tekhnoparks" -- special facilities that offer office space and industrial equipment for businesses to rent.

Aleksandr Tarkaev, the chairman of the administrative board of Tatarstan's Chamber of Trade and Industry, suggested during the event that republican officials should provide more assistance for the development of high-tech industries in the republic by assisting researchers in local institutions of higher education.

Finance Minister Reports Extra Budget Revenues To The Parliament
Radik Giyzatullin suggested to Tatarstan's parliamentary commission on budget and finance that the republic's budget for 2004 should be amended in order to indicate more than $41,400 in extra revenues in taxes and dividends from the shares of state-owned companies, as well as $10.5 million from the federal budget to supplement the rent of lower class people. According to federal law, the 2003 surplus will be transferred to the 2004 budget.

Muslim Holiday To Extend The Weekend
The Muslim holiday of Kurban Beyrem will be celebrated on 1 February this year which, because that day is a Sunday, the following day, 2 February, will also be a holiday, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported citing Tatarstan's Ministry of Labor and Employment.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Interior Ministry Wins Defamation Suits Against Media
The Bashkir Interior Ministry has recently won six defamation suits in Moscow courts against mass-media outlets that alleged ministry heads and employees are linked to criminals, the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations reported on 26 January, citing ministry official Leile Merzagulova. Lawyers for the republican Interior Ministry have filed approximately 30 lawsuits against various media outlets, including "Tribuna," "Rossiiskaya gazeta," and "Moskovskaya pravda." The ministry has thus far won six of the seven cases heard, and the newspaper "Rossiiskie vesti" proposed a settlement to the final case. According to courts' verdicts, the Bashkir Interior Ministry is to be paid 10,000 rubles ($350) for moral damages and an additional 41,000 rubles to cover court expenses. Meanwhile, the ministry has won an additional suit against the "Zvezda povolzhya" weekly filed in a raion court in Bashkortostan. The weekly was ordered to pay the ministry 30,000 rubles in damages, while the author of the article in question was ordered to pay 500 rubles.

Lufthansa Seeks To Set Up Flights To Bashkortostan
A delegation of Lufthansa representatives led by Gunter Ott, the German airline's regional director in Russia and the CIS, arrived in Ufa on 26 January to negotiate the possibility of opening a regular route between Germany and Bashkortostan, RosBalt reported. The visitors are scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov, presidential administration head Radii Khebirov, Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Minister Boris Kolbin, and the heads of the Ufa international airport, the Commerce and Industry Chamber, and Ufa's administration.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova