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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 30, 2004

30 January 2004
Tatar State Council Sets Punishments For Failure To Comply With Language Law...
The State Council approved revisions of the new language law on their third and final reading on 29 January, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. They stipulate that Tatar and Russian are to be taught on an equal basis in kindergartens, schools, and institutes of higher learning, and outline punishments for state officials who fail to comply with the language law. According to the document, all state television and radio outlets are required to provide equal airtime for Tatar- and Russian-language programming.

Deputies also approved a state program for 2004-13 that aims to preserve, research, and develop the languages spoken by Tatar citizens. Under the program, children of Chuvash, Mari, Udmurt, Mordva, and other ethnic communities will be given the opportunity to learn in their native language.

...And Passes Document Defining And Expanding Powers Of Local Self-Governments
According to the bill on local self-government passed by Tatarstan's State Council in its first reading on 29 January, municipal and regional administrations were granted the authority to decide on their own formation procedures and to manage municipal property, RFE/RL reported.

Heads of local-self governments will have the title of mayor, "khekim" in Tatar.

Nine Russia-wide Parties To Run In Tatar State Council Elections
Nine political parties will face off in the elections for Tatarstan's State Council, to be held concurrently with the Russian presidential election on 14 March, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 29 January. Two hundred eighty-two candidates will be competing for 100 seats in parliament. Unified Russia is fielding the largest number of candidates with 91, while the Communist Party is second with 68 candidates. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia has 38 candidates; the Russian Party of Life, 45; the Development of Entrepreneurship party, 21; Russian Regions and Rodina, 16 nominees each; Union of Rightist Forces, 14; and Russia's Pensioners Party, five candidates. One hundred twenty-seven independent candidates are running in 49 districts.

As of 29 January, Tatarstan's Central Election Commission had officially registered just 33 candidates.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Putin Discusses Legislative Harmonization Process With Volga Envoy
Meeting in Novo-Ogarevo on 29 January, President Vladimir Putin and Volga Federal District presidential envoy Sergei Kirienko discussed the issue of harmonization of regional and federal legislation, Nizhnii Novgorod Telegraph Agency and other Russian news agencies reported the same day. Kirienko told the president that the task of harmonization has in fact been completed and the only remaining problems concern the Bashkir and Tatar constitutions. Kirienko said some 3,000 contradictions between federal and regional laws and 43,000 contradictions in municipal acts have been discovered. He added that municipal laws must still be harmonized with federal legislation.

Rakhimov Meets With LUKoil Head
LUKoil plans to increase its presence on Bashkortostan's retail-oil and refining market, RosBalt reported on 29 January. A corresponding agreement was reached the previous day at a meeting between Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov. Alekperov said at the meeting that "friendly, humane relations have been established between us with the president of the republic long ago. Bashkortostan is one of the biggest manufacturers of...petrochemical products that is attractive for investments and has big potential for further industrial development." Alekperov informed Rakhimov about plans to develop LUKoil's retail business in the republic and increase deliveries of oil to Bashkir refineries. Oil products are expected to be subsequently sold in Bashkortostan and neighboring regions. Rakhimov offered a "positive appraisal" of the current state of cooperation between Bashkortostan and LUKoil and recent LUKoil business initiatives, the Bashkir president's press service reported. LUKoil, a major supplier of oil to Bashkir refineries, has 31 filling stations in Bashkortostan.

EBRD Provides Funding To UralSib
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) presented UralSib bank with the first, $2 million tranche of funding related to a five-year program to support small businesses in Russia, RosBalt reported on 29 January, citing the bank's press service. The total credit line contained in the related agreement, signed in December, is $10 million. UralSib is tasked with developing a program to support small businesses in all the regions in which it has branches or affiliates. UralSib has more than 330 offices in 70 Russian cities. Under another agreement signed in December, the EBRD will provide UralSib with a four-year loan of $15 million to finance small and medium-sized companies.

6,000 Candidates Running For Local Elected Bodies
The process of proposing candidates for the March elections to city and raion councils has been completed in Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported on 29 January. Some 6,000 candidates will compete in roughly 2,000 single-mandate districts in the elections, which will be held together with the Russian presidential ballot. Some 1,500 names are being fielded by political parties, while the remaining candidates applied independently. Unified Russia is fielding 1,000 candidates, the Bashkir Communist Party 400 members and 500 supporters, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia 36 candidates. Competition is expected to be greatest among Ufa's 60 electoral districts, where between four and seven individuals are expected to vie for each mandate. Would-be candidates from parties represented in the State Duma are not obliged to collect signatures to confirm their candidacies. Others must present petitions containing at least 2 percent of eligible voters in their okrug or pay a registration fee of 150,000 rubles ($5,259).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova