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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 16, 2004

16 April 2004
Tatarstan, Denmark To Cooperate In Energy Sector
Energy and insulation technologies developed in Denmark will be applied in Tatarstan's housing sector, Tatar Housing Minister Marat Khosnullin said on 15 April during a meeting with Danish businessmen, RosBalt reported. Specifically, Khosnullin said a project on automatic regulation of heating in houses proposed by the Danfoss company is of interest to the republic. Khosnullin said Tatarstan's 30 million-euro contract with Grundfos is being implemented and 300,000 euros in equipment from Danfoss will be purchased. The reform of the housing and municipal-service sector will cost in the republic a total of 33 billion rubles ($1.1 billion), Khosnullin said.

Russian-Danish Institute for Energy Efficiency Director Sten Stenstrup said a joint venture can be established to develop Tatar-Danish cooperation. Representatives of Danfoss, Grundfos, Kamstrup, Belux Rossia ZAO, and RDIEE/Moscow visited Tatarstan on 14-15 April.

Tatarstan Begins Constructing Toll Roads
Tatar Transport Minister Vladimir Shvetsov on 15 April told a press conference in Kazan that the republic plans to begin construction of five toll highways this year. Shvetsov said road construction has dropped significantly in Tatarstan since 2001 when the highway tax was abolished. The projects together require some 20 billion rubles. Shvetsov said Tatneft is considered the most likely investor of the construction of the Kazan-Orenburg highway. He also said that the International Finance Corporation expressed interest in participation in that project, while PricewaterhouseCoopers in the construction of a road in Kazan.

Bin Laden Calls On Tatars, Bashkirs To Boycott Federal Bodies
Three men were arrested in the Samara railway station last week and literature was seized from them, including an appeal signed by Osama bin Laden to Russia's Bashkirs and Tatars calling on them to boycott federal authorities, "Kommersant" and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 15 April. Kyrgyz citizens Rafik Iksanov and Bakhtiyar Kulinov and Kazakh citizen Ruslan Aliev have been ordered deported on charges of propagating Wahhabism. The three did not have Russian visas.

The literature was published by the Ibrahim al-Ibrahim foundation, which was banned by the Justice Ministry in 2000. The Federal Security Service deputy head in Samara, Rishat Ibrahimov, told "Kommersant" that the detainees are members of the international Islamic organization Tablig.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Researcher Predicts Census Results In Bashkortostan
Ethnic policy expert Ildar Gebdrefiqov told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 15 April that according to his information, the results of the October 2002 national census in Bashkortostan will show an increase in the ethnic Tatar and Bashkir population, by some 100,000 each, while the ethnic Russian population he expects to drop by 20,000 as compared to the 1989 census. As a result Russians are expected to toll 1.5 million, Tatars 1.225 million and Bashkir some 1 million of local population.

However, according to the Tatar rights movement in the republic, in comparison with the Soviet-era census, the 2002 census saw serious violations by Bashkir authorities, who put pressure on Tatar-dominated areas to beef up Bashkir population figures.

Unified Russia Dominates Local Legislatures...
Mansur Ayupov, secretary of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party's political council in Bashkortostan and a State Duma deputy from the republic, told a party conference in Ufa on 15 April that Unified Russia managed to obtain 80 percent of the seats in all local elected government bodies, RosBalt reported the same day.

Unified Russia deputies reportedly make up 90 percent of municipal and regional councils, more than 85 percent in the Bashkir parliament, and more than 80 percent in the Ufa City Council. Ayupov said that gaining such an overwhelming majority was the first step in claiming responsibility for the welfare of Bashkortostan's citizens.

...And Preparing To Take Over Executive Branch
According an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent, the party conference outlined the main tasks for Unified Russia's branch in Bashkortostan, including the "promotion of organizational and ideological work among the party's members and supporters so that the party's decisions and actions were aimed at ensuring the stable development of the country and the republic as well as strong support for the political course of the Russian president, and the president and government of the Republic of Bashkortostan."

The party also resolved that it should "in conditions of democracy and political competition, become the major institution for training and promoting managerial staff." Moreover, Unified Russia's regional branches were given the task of creating a reserve of such staff, "ready to take over any qualified jobs in any levels of authority and management."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi