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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 26, 2004

26 March 2004
Kazan Mayor Defends His City Against Presidential Attack
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov told a meeting of the Kazan City Council on 25 March that according to a new survey the Tatar capital has overtaken Moscow in terms of living standards, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Kazan came in 185th place in the poll. Iskhakov, who failed to specify the source, emphasized that the standard of living in Kazan was increasing. Recently, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said that the city government should "come back down to Earth" and take a more critical look at its work. Shaimiev had referred to recent opinion polls, which said that 67 percent of Kazan residents were unhappy about the current housing reform in their native town. He also noted that the city administration has so far made no suggestions on how to combat rising rents. Immediately after the 14 March elections for the Russian president and Tatarstan's State Council, state rents were increased by some 30 percent.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Constitution To Be Amended...
Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev said on 25 March that the republic's legislature will pass amendments to the Bashkir Constitution this fall, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 March. The amendments are necessary to make the republican basic law compatible with the federal law on local self-government that will come into force as of 1 January 2006. Tolkachev said a new system of local self-government is to be created by 2005 under which a charter is to appear in each municipality. Changes in budget policy will also be included in the amended constitution, Tolkachev added. He said the amendments should not be viewed as an overall effort to harmonize the republic's constitution with the federal constitution, and that such changes will only be made on the basis of agreement.

...As Bill To Simplify Amendment Procedure Progresses
The Bashkir State Assembly on 25 March passed on second reading a bill to simplify the process of amending the Bashkir Constitution, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 March. The bill follows last year's transformation of parliament from a bicameral to unicameral body. The bill allows for the establishment at the republican president's initiative of a constitutional commission to amend basic articles of the constitution determining its state status. Such a commission would be a consultative body tasked with developing proposals on amending the main law. Representatives of state authority bodies, local self-government, political parties, public associations, trade unions, and religious associations may take part in the commission. Previously, 50,000 signatures of republic's residents were required for amending status-defining articles of the constitution.

Ufa Gets Another Credit From British Bank
The British bank HSBC will allocate $15 million in credit to the Bashkir government, RosBalt reported on 25 March. A corresponding agreement was signed the same day by Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and bank Chairman Richard Tikner. The credit is provided for one year. The interest rate was reduced by .25 percent comparing to the bank's previous credit to Bashkortostan. Baidavletov said the money will be invested in financing projects in the fuel and energy sectors. Transactions will be made via the UralSib bank. Projects of Salavatnefteorgsintez, Bashkirenergo, and other companies in the fuel and energy sectors will reportedly be given priority. The HSBC bank has twice provided credits to the Bashkir government -- $45 million in 1998 and $15 million in March 2003 that was recently repaid (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 March 2004).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova