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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 22, 2004

22 April 2004
Tatarstan's FSB Gets New Chief
FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev met in Kazan with Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev on 21 April to present FSB Major General Yevgenii Vdovin, who was recently named the agency's new chief in the republic, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Vdovin, 51, who most recently headed the FSB Directorate in the Udmurtia Republic, replaces General Aleksandr Gusev, who was elected as a deputy in Tatarstan's State Council in March and was subsequently chosen to head the parliamentary committee on legal issues and ethics.

Parliamentary Speaker Promotes Tax Cuts For Small Businesses
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, who heads Unified Russia's Tatarstan branch, said on 21 April that amendments to the republican income-tax law that are to be considered at the parliament's 28 April plenary session call for cutting taxes for small businesses by half, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Mukhametshin said deputies of the Unified Russia party, which holds an overwhelming majority in the republican parliament, will support the measure, which intends to make the republic's small businesses more competitive by relieving their tax burden.

State Agency Cites Increasing Drug Traffic To Kazan
In first three months of 2004, Tatarstan's branch of the State Drugs Control Department seized some 50 kilograms of narcotics, including 3 kilograms of heroin, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today, citing branch head Shamil Dewlet-guildiev. According to Shamil Dewlet-guildiev, the amount of confiscated drugs is constantly rising and said it is directly connected with the yield of illegal drugs cultivated in Afghanistan. If 2003 was characterized by relatively low drug-trafficking figures caused by low yields in 2002, the rich harvest of 2003 can be expected to result in more drug shipments from that country, he said.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan's Rating Grows
The international Standard & Poor's rating agency has raised Bashkortostan's credit rating to BB-, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 21 April. According to both Standard & Poor's and Moody's, Bashkortostan is the third-highest ranking region in Russia following Moscow and St. Petersburg in terms of credit rating. Industrial growth in the republic totaled 7.5 percent last year, while the real income of residents increased by 16.3 percent. The daily speculated that it is not only the oil produced in the republic that is behind its success but also the industrial policy of authorities that directs revenues from oil production to support other sectors of the economy, mainly oil refining, construction, and agriculture. A strong social system in the republic also contributed to its high rating, the daily said.

Administration Head Meets With Religious Leaders
Bashkir presidential administration head Radii Khebirov met with religious leaders in Bashkortostan on 21 April including Mufti Telget Tajetdin, Archbishop Nikon, and Rabbi Dan Krichevskii, reported the same day. Khebirov expressed thanks to the leaders for their grounded positions during December's Bashkir presidential elections. "Attempts were taken to divide Bashkortostan's society along religious lines during the Bashkir presidential campaign but they turned out to be unsuccessful," Khebirov said. The leaders expressed their gratitude to the republic's leadership for its equal treatment of all faiths in the republic and for its support for them. The construction of a synagogue and an Orthodox cathedral in Ufa was also discussed. Khebirov introduced to participants the new head of Bashkir's state Council on Religious Affairs, Mars Shahiev.

Special Interior Ministry Troops To Be Based In Bashkortostan
A detachment of Interior Ministry special troops will be moved from Primorskii Krai to Bashkortostan in a short time, the head of the Russian Interior Ministry's Chief Directorate in the Volga Federal District, Vladimir Shcherbakov, said on 21 April in Ufa. Shcherbakov said the issue was discussed the same day at a meeting with President Murtaza Rakhimov. Shcherbakov said the unit will be used for securing civic order during public events in Ufa and guarding underground construction of the subway in Ufa. If necessary it will be sent to hot spots, including Chechnya and the Russian-Kazakh border. Apartments for unit officers will be constructed in Ufa with federal money. Shcherbakov said the detachment has the most modern equipment. While in the republic the unit will be subordinate to the Bashkir interior minister.

New Deputy Prime Minister Appointed
Bashkir Industry Minister Boris Kolbin has headed the Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Ministry and has been appointed deputy prime minister, RosBalt reported on 21 April, citing the presidential press service. President Murtaza Rakhimov signed the same day a corresponding decree. Kolbin's predecessor on the post Sergei Yefremov resign in March. Kolbin, 55, had been heading the Industry Ministry since 2002.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova