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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 10, 2004

10 June 2004
Tatar Parliamentary Speaker Criticizes Draft Social Security Reform
Tatarstan State Council Chairman and senior Unified Russia member Farid Mukhametshin told reporters on 9 June that the party's board decided to support a government-proposed draft reforms on 7 June aimed at replacing the existing system of social benefits for the poor with monetary compensations, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Mukhametshin cited the draft reform as seeking to correct a situation in which some citizens do not use their social-security benefits in full. However, he noted that those for whom the reform is designed can choose whether to have their current social benefits maintained or replaced by such financial compensation.

Mukhametshin also expressed discontent over Moscow's signal that it will leave regional governments only those powers that can be financed from local budgets. He also said he is bewildered that the reforms would entail a 3.5 percent increase of regional transfers to the federal budget, while the majority of the poorer segment of the population would be financed from regional budgets.

Health Ministry Discusses Women's Health
Tatarstan's Health Ministry held a conference on women's health issues on 9 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Ministry officials speaking at the conference said that Tatarstan is currently experiencing a gradual reduction in abortion rates and in the number of unauthorized abortions. However, the ministry is reportedly preparing for an upsurge in such unauthorized operations in the near future in the light of a Russia-wide boom in criminal abortions. Two Tatarstan residents died as a result of such operations in 2003.

Physicians at the news conference also cited the critical economic situation in Russia as a major contributor to abortion rates, saying 60 percent of pregnant women polled across Russia said they intended to seek an abortion because of their inability to provide sufficient social conditions for their children.

Beginning in the 1990s, Tatarstan has opened nine family-planning centers and 68 receiving facilities. At the same time, official figures suggest that 15 percent of republican families cannot have children.

Tatar Officials To Visit Iran
A Tatar government delegation led by Trade Minister Khafiz Salikhov will visit Iran on 13-16 June to discuss cooperation in the petrochemical industry and the possible import of Tatar machinery and medical instruments to Iran, Intertat reported on 9 June.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashneft To Maintain Oil Output Levels In 2004
The Bashneft oil company plans to maintain its oil production in 2004 at the same levels as 2003, Bashinform reported on 8 June. The major Bashkir oil company pumped more than 12 million tons of oil in 2003 and more than 5 million in the first five months of this year.

Ufa Raion Court Says Arbitration Judge's Office Was Sealed Illegally
The Kirov raion court of Ufa ruled on 9 June that Bashkortostan's Supreme Court decision to authorize sealing Arbitration Court Chairman Fanil Safin's office on 14 May was illegal, Rosbalt reported. The office was reportedly sealed by the officers of Russian Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service with the consent of Bashkir Supreme Court. Acting chief prosecutor Mikhail Zelepukin told reporters on 9 June that his subordinates have some questions for the Supreme Court judge who issued the ruling on sealing Safin's office.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi