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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 31, 2004

31 May 2004
Tatar Government To Rethink Drug Policy
Timur Yusupov, deputy head of the Federal Antinarcotics Service branch in Tatarstan, told a 28 May meeting of Tatarstan's antidrug agencies that some 10,000 drug users are currently registered in the republic, 7,000 of which are addicted, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 30 May. People aged 18 to 30 represent the majority of drug addicts, while the life cycle of an average addict is reported at five years.

Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva told the same meeting that the existing system of drug-addiction monitoring based on multiplying the number of officially registered drug addicts by 10 to obtain a realistic assessment had to be replaced with a more precise instrument. She implied that the governmental program of antidrug public awareness should include more measures aimed at various social groups that were previously neglected.

Tatarstan spends approximately $70,000 a year on its antidrug program.

KamAZ Reports Improved Performance
Speaking at KamAZ's annual shareholders meeting on 28 May, General Director Sergei Kogogin said the Chally-based auto giant increased its share of the Russian truck market by 2.5 percentage points in 2003 to 38.5 percent, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 30 May. Also in 2003 the firm's profits went up by 17.5 percent to 9.5 million rubles ($330,000). Russian inflation for the year was about 12 percent, however.

KamAZ officials reported that in 2003 the concern managed to boost sales by 25 percent by implementing leasing schemes, which proved suitable for private businesses previously unable to buy KamAZ trucks.

Shareholders agreed with a proposal by KamAZ's board of directors not to pay out dividends this year, but to put the profits into a reserve fund. The company is likely to hold another shareholders meeting this year to replace board members from the federal cabinet, which still includes members of Mikhail Kasyanov's government.

The federal government owns 34.01 percent of KamAZ, Vneshtorgbank holds 19.41 percent, Tatarstan's government 11.6 percent, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 6.79 percent, KamAZ International Management Company 3.82 percent, and Sberbank 2.82 percent.

Kazan-Based Army Unit Loses Five Soldiers In Chechnya
A Kazan-based special forces unit had five soldiers killed and seven injured in a recent explosion in Chechnya, Efir TV reported on 28 May. The death toll included recruits from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Dimitrovgrad, and Perm and Chita oblasts, who had only three months of service left before going home. In the last two Chechen wars, the unit, which is known for preparing future spetsnaz officers, had had only two killed and three injured.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Prosecutor Says Fight Against Back Wages Toughens...
Bashkir prosecutor's office head Lyudmila Ekhmetshina told a press conference on 28 May that 20 criminal cases have been opened in Bashkortostan so far this year for delays in paying wages, while the total of back wages owed has grown by 18 percent to 405.7 million rubles ($13.5 million), RosBalt reported the same day. In 2003, 10 such cases were opened, five of which went to trial. One company director was given a three-year suspended sentence, while two other cases were settled out of court. Ekhmetshina said private companies are the main wage debtors.

Bashkortostan's acting prosecutor Mikhail Zelepukin said on 28 May that 337 officials have been fined in the past 18 months for breaking laws on paying wages. Zelepukin said prosecutors failing to prosecute nonpayment of wages will also be punished, adding that the Ishimbai prosecutor has been fired for this reason.

...As Collective Farm Pays Wages With Salt
Employees of Mishkin Raion's Fetkhetdinov collective farm were paid their wages in salt, "Trud" reported on 28 May. Depending on their wages, people were given from 50 to 100 kilograms of salt. Households, including even sheep and cows, now have salt supplies for the next five years, the newspaper wrote. Workers at the farm haven't been paid all their wages with money since 1991. In Mishkin Raion villages, where 40 percent of farms lose money, wages are also paid with milk, grain, hay, and manure. The head of the raion administration was dismissed after the "salt wages" case was reported in the media, while local residents have been told "what they can and what they can't discuss with touring journalists," the daily reported.

Agroindustrial Complex Trade Union Central Committee official Ivan Furman said that there are similar farms paying wages fully in agricultural products in 60 regions. Even on prosperous farms, 20 percent of wages are paid in goods.

Bashkir NGOs Show No Interest In Forum On Bashkortostan's Peoples Friendship
Professor Rushan Gallemov, a member of Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress Executive Committee and organizer of the 21 May "Cooperation and Friendship of Bashkortostan's Peoples" conference, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 30 May that leaders of the republic's Bashkir national and civic groups not only didn't attend the conference despite strong encouragement from the organizers, but even tried to hinder the event. Gallemov said the conference resolution includes a paragraph supporting the suggestion by President Murtaza Rakhimov that the status of Tatar in Bashkortostan be raised. Another paragraph mentions the necessity of promoting friendly relations between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova