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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 9, 2004

9 September 2004
Tatar Groups Continue Collecting Aid For Beslan Victims
Tatar Communications Ministry employees will contribute over 1 million rubles ($34,200) to the support fund for victims of the hostage crisis in Beslan, reported on 8 September, citing the ministry's press service. The Republican Committee of the Communications Workers Trade Union has transferred 27,000 rubles to the North Ossetian Communications Workers Trade Union to help families that suffered in the Beslan siege.

Tatar Education Minister Reis Sheikhelislamov sent a telegram of condolences to his North Ossetian counterpart Anna Levitskaya in which he said that Tatar ministry employees will donate their one day's salaries to families of those killed and injured in the Beslan crisis.

The Kazan Tatkhimfarmpreparaty pharmaceutical producer will deliver to North Ossetia 52,000 rubles' worth of medicines and materials, reported on 8 September.

S&P Issues Positive Forecast For Tatarstan's Rating
The Standard & Poor's international rating agency has confirmed Tatarstan's long-term rating on foreign-currency obligations at the B- level and has raised its forecast to "positive," RIA-Novosti reported on 8 September, citing the agency's press release. Standard & Poor's credit analyst Valentin Bogorov said the forecast change was caused by an increase in republican budget revenues and diversification of Tatarstan's economy that will likely increase the republic's creditability. It is noted in the press release that the rating is supported by high parameters of budget implementation and small amount of direct debt while the high share of revenues from the oil sector in the republic budget, low financial flexibility, and high level of conditional obligations affect the rating negatively. In 2003, republican direct debt made up only 1.3 percent of current incomes, while the entire debt totaled 8.4 percent of budget incomes. Standard & Poor's is expecting that diversification of Tatarstan's economy will develop and the republic will maintain its high parameters of implementing its budget.

Oil, Gas Industrialists Critical Of Taxation OF Oil Exports
Participants at the fifth congress of oil and gas industrialists that opened in Kazan on 8 September sharply criticized the progressive scale of taxation of oil exports that came into force on 7 June, "Kommersant-Volga" reported on 9 September. Under the scale, when the price of oil is between $25 and $35, companies have to pay 65 percent of their income in taxes. In his opening speech, Russian Oil and Gas Industrialists Union President Gennadii Shmal expressed his regret that the industry is "not considered as a source of economic growth but as the milk cow of the stabilization fund." Shmal said that under the current tax system, the higher the world's oil prices, the lower the profit of oil companies. Head of the economic group under the Russian presidential administration Anton Danilov-Danilyan criticized Shmal's speech, telling the daily, "Some things have been expressed in it that, to say the least, have nothing to do with reality."

Addressing the forum, Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said proposals on tax differentiation on use of natural resources still are not taken into account, thus driving Tatneft, Rosneft, and Bashneft to work on exhausted deposits in unequal conditions with Sibneft and LUKoil. Minnikhanov also criticized amendments to the federal law on natural resources that deprive federation entities of the right to issue licenses on usage of natural resources, which under the Russian Constitution is the joint power of the federation and its entities.

Court Deprives TIU's Chally Branch Of Legal Status
A Chally court issued a ruling on 8 September abolishing the Chally branch of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) and removing it from the register of legal persons, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported the same day. The ruling came as a result of a suit filed by the Russian Justice Ministry's Chief Directorate in Tatarstan that argued that the branch did not reregister and did not provide reports about its activities and its head. TIU Chally Deputy Chairman Abderakhman Jeleletdinov said at the trial that the organization will appeal the verdict in the Tatar Supreme Court, as it believes reregistration and providing necessary documentation is the obligation of the main organization, not of a branch.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Local Administrations Said To Oppose Tatar Public Movement In Bashkortostan
The deputy chairman of the Congress of Tatar Public Organizations in Bashkortostan, Mecit Khucin, told representatives on 8 September that the current move toward establishing national-cultural autonomies in the republic's regions is strongly opposed by local administrations, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The meeting's attendants reportedly agreed to address a special query to Bashkortostan's chief prosecutor, Mikhail Zelepukin. In response to a recent reduction in Tatar language and literature classes among schools in the republic, the group backed an appeal to Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov questioning the correctness of replacing Tatar classes in ethnic Tatar schools with lessons in Bashkir.

Bashinform Questions Funding Levels Of Russian Army
The recent school tragedy in Beslan, North Ossetia, revealed precisely and objectively our weakness, the state-controlled Bashinform news agency wrote in an editorial on 8 September. The piece reported that video footage of the 1-3 September hostage crisis included pictures of Russian army recruits "whose oversized clothes and absence of sufficient ammunition raised pity in anyone who saw them." The agency concluded that those who organized and committed the Beslan atrocity had better funding than the Russian Army.

Rakhimov Hands Out Construction Awards, Urges Use Of Local Products
President Rakhimov complained to the attendees of a ceremony to hand out awards for architecture and construction on 8 September that the republic is unnecessarily importing building materials from other parts of Russia because such components can be produced in Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported. Many of those who received awards were leaders or activists within the republic's Federation of Trade Unions.

Previous reports in the Bashkir media suggest the construction sector is the second-worst in terms of unpaid wages, with average delays of between three and six months. Only the agricultural sector fares worse, according to those reports.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi