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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 29, 2004

29 April 2004
Shaimiev Says Russian Duma Should Not Be Rubber Stamp
Unified Russia's overwhelming victory in December's parliamentary elections has both positive and negative aspects, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 28 April during his meeting in the Kazan Kremlin with Tatar representatives in the Federation Council and the State Duma. He said Unified Russia's ability to pass measures without hindrance could be a positive, but noted that if such legislation is unfounded that ability could be a negative. He said it should not be permissible for a bill to passed in all three readings at the same time, as was the case with a recent bill on the oil sector. He also said the State Duma should not be a rubber stamp for Unified Russia. Meanwhile, Duma Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov said at the meeting that there has never been such a strong representation from Tatarstan in the State Duma.

Tatneft To Extract Iranian Oil
President Mintimer Shaimiev and an Iranian delegation headed by Iranian Ambassador to Russia Golamreza Shafei reached an agreement on 28 April under which Tatarstan will develop oil deposits in Iran and the Iranian side will construct housing in Kazan, ITAR-TASS and Tatar media reported on 28 April. Mosafazan and Janbazan Fund Chairman Mohammad Fruzande said following the negotiations that the sides "agreed on the establishment of joint ventures with Tatneft to prospect, develop, and extract oil in Iran." "Our construction company will take part in the construction of housing and other buildings in Kazan," he said. Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khefiz Salikhov said Tatarstan plans to process Iranian oil in Turkey, where Tatneft together with the Turkish Zorlu company own the country's largest oil refinery. Salikhov said trade turnover between Iran and Tatarstan has doubled to $3.4 million in the past year.

Tatar Classes To Be Allowed In Moscow Schools
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov signed a resolution under which the teaching of Tatar language, history, and culture will be organized in secondary schools in all of Moscow's administrative districts, reported on 27 April. Parents who would like to enroll their children in these courses have been asked to apply to the Council of Moscow's Regional National Cultural Autonomy. Such classes will be formed if at least 25 students enroll.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan's Duma Deputies Oppose Oil-Tax Boost
All 10 State Duma deputies representing Bashkortostan voted against the increase in oil-extraction taxes recently passed by the Duma, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 29 April. The amendments to the Tax Code were reportedly pushed by the Unified Russia party, which has an overwhelming majority in the lower chamber. Duma Speaker and Unified Russia leader Boris Gryzlov said recently that the amendment seeks to ensure the equal distribution of taxes among all citizens and equalize profits by oil companies to the levels of other industries in Russia.

Speaking with reporters on 28 April, State Duma Deputy from Bashkortostan Mikhail Bugera explained that his fellow deputies disagreed with the draft because it will "bring negative consequences" for the republic's oil industries, because the adopted bill does not take into account the low profitability of "difficult" and old oil deposits with high-density and high-sulfur oil, and offers the same tax rates as for new, easily extractable oil deposits.

Poor Road Conditions Blamed In 10 Traffic Accidents
Bashkir Construction, Architecture, and Transport Committee head Khemit Mewliyarov told a conference of the committee on 28 April that the poor condition of major Bashkir highways M-5 (Samara-Ufa-Chelyabinsk) and M-7 (Moscow-Kazan-Ufa) were the cause of 10 traffic accidents there so far this year.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi