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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 9, 2004

9 June 2004
Tatarstan Industries Make Progress In Paying Off Back Wages
More than 36,000 Tatarstan residents are currently owed some 120.8 million rubles ($4.1 million) in back wages, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today, citing the governmental commission that oversees the timely payment of wages. However, only one-third of debtor enterprises were reported to have outstanding wage arrears of more than two months. After checking statistics on the average wages paid in the republic's most economically disadvantaged areas, the commission agreed to establish measures to ensure that average monthly wages there exceed 2,500 rubles ($86) per capita. The governmental body chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Rawyl Moratov also ruled on 8 June that those ventures that fail to pay wages to their employees for more than two months must undergo bankruptcy procedures.

Minister Says New Social Security System To Boost Welfare Benefits
Social Security Minister Klavdiya Novikova said on 8 June that current welfare reforms that would replace the current system in which impoverished citizens receive discounts on goods with one in which they would receive financial compensations "will give extra benefits to the population, especially in the rural areas," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. She said it is still unclear which compensations would be paid from the Russian budget and which would come from the republican budget, but that the Social Security Ministry has already set up a database of welfare recipients.

Government Considers Possible Merger Of Kazan Telephone Network And Tattelekom
Tatarstan's government is to make decision on merging the state-owned Kazan City Telephone Network (GTS) with the Tattelekom joint-stock company later this summer, Tatarinform reported on 8 June. The companies are currently managed by Tatarstan's Svyazinvestneftekhim state holding company.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Forged-Ballot Case Goes To Court
Bashkortostan's chief prosecutor has sent the case of the illegal printing of ballot forms prior to the December 2003 republican presidential elections to court, RosBalt reported on 8 June, citing an unnamed source in the prosecutor's office (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 5 December 2003). Although the printing house is owned by the Bashkir presidential staff, charges of attempting to falsify ballot forms were only brought against Marat Valeev, the director of the printing house. Bashkortostan's deputy prosecutor told reporters after studying the case that the extra ballot forms were ordered by presidential-administration head Radii Khebirov. After the election, which was won by President Murtaza Rakhimov, then-deputy prosecutor Vladimir Korostilev was transferred to the same position in Ulyanovsk Oblast, while chief prosecutor Florid Baykov retired.

Trade Unions Won't Picket Outside Buildings Of Bashkir Government
Bashkortostan's Trade Unions Federation will join the nationwide demonstration led by the Independent Trade Unions Federation on 10 June, but unlike that organization will avoid picketing government buildings, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 9 June. The Bashkir unions will reportedly limit their demonstration to gathering at the square near the Ufa sports hall. Nevertheless, they are planning to call for salary hikes for public-sector employees, such as teachers and doctors, and increasing social support for the disadvantaged. According to the lists submitted by the federation, Bashkortostan's trade unions represent more than 1.3 million workers.

Prosecutor Wants Stricter Measures Against Misbehaving Policemen...
Acting prosecutor Mikhail Zelepukin told an 8 June meeting of Bashkortostan's law-enforcement agencies that those policemen who conceal evidence of crimes should have "special measures" applied to them, RosBalt reported the same day. He claimed that withholding evidence of crimes was "the major problem of the entire Russian law-enforcement system." Zelepukin said the system should unite its efforts to ensure the objective registration of crime statistics and use "more radical measures" to improve discipline among officers. He stressed that from the beginning of 2003, his office has uncovered 738 crimes that were not registered by Interior Ministry officers.

...And His Own Subordinates
Zelepukin told the same meeting that in the last two months, seven of the 72 prosecutors in Bashkortostan's cities and regions were dismissed for not complying with the provisions of the Prosecutor-General's Office. He said that that number could grow in the next few days, which would "not indicate a staff revolution, but the correct organization of work."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi