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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 5, 2004

5 July 2004
Tatar Parliament Opposes Social Guarantees Reform...
Tatarstan's State Council on 1 July adopted an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the chairmen of both chambers of the Federal Assembly, and the chairman of the Russian government in which it criticizes draft legislation on the monetarization of social guarantees, reported on 2 July. The Tatar parliament opposes the adoption of the draft law in its current version and its further consideration by the State Duma without thorough expertise, additional analysis, and evaluation of its socioeconomic consequences for Russia as a whole and its regions. The legislature argues that the proposed amendments violate the Russian Constitution and are aimed at defying the principle of common powers between Moscow and its regional entities on issues that are of most importance for residents. The draft passes on to Russia's entities the obligation to make payments on the major portion of such benefits as health care, education, and cultural items, the appeal states. It adds that such an approach by the Russian government on social issues contradicts the principle of fairness that is expected to give equal access to residents and major social guarantees regardless of where they live or work, Tatar deputies noted.

...As Does Tatarstan -- New Century
The Tatarstan -- New Century public political movement gathered on 3 July for a congress marking its fifth anniversary and approved an appeal to State Duma deputies in which it expressed concern about a package of draft amendments to federal laws monetarizing social support for citizens, reported the same day. The appeal states that the proposed amendments would end the existing system of social guarantees and privileges for employees in such areas as health care, culture, and education and hurt those with the smallest incomes. According to the amendments, the entire burden of social payments for state employees and pensioners would fall on federation entities. Congress delegates stressed that shifting the implementation of social guarantees and privileges on the budgets of regions and local governments will undermine trust in regional and local authorities that could have serious political consequences on the eve of elections.

Tatneft Late With Report To U.S. SEC
Tatneft failed to present to the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) by 30 June a bookkeeping report for 2003 that meets U.S. GAAP standards, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 3 July. Tatneft informed the SEC that the delay is due to the fact that it had not received a concluding report by auditor Ernst & Young Vneshaudit. Tatneft said that auditors from Ernst & Young Vneshaudit unveiled several "unusual deals and aims of which were unclear" while studying accounts for the company from 2003. Auditors said they were not given sufficient information to check those deals. The audit will be completed by 15 July, Tatneft said.

More Than 1,000 Schools To Be Connected To Internet
Tatarstan's 1,306 secondary schools are scheduled to be connected to the Internet by 2005, Regnum reported on 2 July, citing the Tatar Education Ministry. The project to connect the schools to a unified network run by the Education Ministry is being implemented by Tattelecom, the company that won a Russia-wide competition in January. The project costs 30 million rubles ($1 million) provided in equally by the Russian and Tatar governments. Currently 351 schools in Tatarstan have been connected to the Internet, 179 of them in Kazan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatar NGOs Prepare For Referendum On Tatar-Language Status
Bashkortostan's ethnic-Tatar leaders gathered on 2 July to discuss the agenda of a 6 July meeting of the republic's Tatar civic groups on organizing a referendum to raise the status of the Tatar language in Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 2 July. The leaders agreed to finalize a working group to prepare for a referendum. It was reported at the 2 July gathering that immediately after the announcement made by Tatar NGOs on initiating the referendum, republic's authorities ordered leaders in the republic's Tatar-populated raions to hinder the activities of the working group and prevent the collection of signatures needed for the referendum. Tatar leaders cited reports that Moscow is also against such a referendum in Bashkortostan and fears such a vote might result in a chain reaction of similar referendums across Russia.

Second Anniversary Of Tragic Plane Crash Marked In Ufa
Some 150 people took part on 2 July in a mourning ceremony at the Ufa southern cemetery to mark the second anniversary of the midair collision over southern Germany that killed 48 children and 23 adults, most of them from Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Bashkir Social Defense and Employment Minister Fidus Jamaletdinov was the only state official at the event. Muslim, Orthodox, and Catholic officials prayed at the ceremony.

Narcotics Turnover Growing In Bashkortostan
In 2003, Bashkortostan's law-enforcement bodies seized 90 kilograms of narcotics, while in the first five months of this year, police had already confiscated 52 kilograms (17 kilos were heroin), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. Some 5,100 drug addicts have been registered in Bashkortostan. However, the head of Bashkortostan's department of the Russia's Directorate on Supervision Of Narcotics Turnover, Emir Nigmetjanov, estimated their true number in the republic to be as high as 30,000.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova