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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 8, 2004

8 October 2004
Parliament Committee Head Says Tatarstan To Take Latin-Script Issue To Strasbourg
State Council Culture, Science, Education, and National Issues Committee Chairman Razil Weliev told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 7 October that if the Russian Constitutional Court rules that the Tatar-script issue falls within the republic's authority and not Moscow's, then Tatarstan's 1999 law on restoration of the Latin Tatar script will take force. Weliev said money for it has been allocated in the draft 2005 budget and in the State Program for Development of Languages of Tatarstan's Peoples. If the court rules that Tatarstan cannot decide on the Tatar script on its own, Tatar parliament deputies will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Kazan Interior Ministry Official Declares War On Illegal Parking Lots
Kazan Interior Ministry Directorate head Colonel Fayaz Shabaev told a press conference on 7 October that law-enforcement bodies have declared war against unauthorized parking lots in Kazan and they will be abolished within a year, reported the same day. Shabaev said there are about 200 illegal parking lots in Kazan and organized crime groups make some 70 million rubles ($2.4 million) a year from each of them. Shabaev said the City Parking-Lot Service established in 2000 as an alternative to illegal car parks did not ensure the safety of parked cars and avoided paying a significant share of profits to the city. He added that law-enforcement bodies plan to resolve the issue by establishing legal parking lots patrolled by police. Toward this end a group of former Interior Ministry officers established the City Parking Lot Foundation in early August to act as a mediator between the Kazan administration and private security agencies in allotting land for parking lots to those agencies that will guarantee the safety of parked cars. Shabaev believes that illegal parking lots will then gradually disappear as people begin to trust the legal ones more.

Tatarstan's Passenger Automobile Transport To Be Privatized
Tatarstan's First Deputy Transport Minister Pavel Chernov said on 7 October that the Tatavtotrans transport corporation will be privatized, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The measure is linked to the federal law on monetarization of benefits that comes into force on 1 January. Previously, Tatavtotrans received every year 300 million rubles in compensation for services provided to pensioners. Ministry experts predict that the abolishment of benefits will result in a drop in the number of passengers of 40 to 45 percent. The ministry is considering four variants of privatization, including selling stakes in each company, selling them as a package, merging companies and then selling the stakes, and establishing within Tatavtotrans regional managing companies with the subsequent sale of their shares. Bankruptcy proceedings against companies in debt to the state will be initiated.

The corporation unites 34 transport companies owning over 1,000 trucks, 2,700 buses, and 1.6 billion rubles in assets and employing 9,500 people. Tatavtotrans holds some 50 percent of each company.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatar Delegation Joins Celebrations Of Republic Day
A Tatar delegation headed by State Council deputy Indus Tahirov left for Ufa on 7 October to continue negotiations on cultural cooperation between the two republics, RFE/RL's Ufa and Kazan correspondents reported the same day. The visitors will take part in festivities devoted to Bashkortostan's Republic Day on 11 October. The sides are scheduled to sign a plan of bilateral cooperation.

On 11 October 1990, Bashkortostan declared itself a sovereign state and a subject of the USSR and the Russian Federation.

Women's Union Continues Helping Beslan Victims
A delegation of the Bashkortostan's Women's Union left for Moscow on 7 October to hold a charity event to help the victims of the Beslan school siege, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Union Chairwoman Reshide Soltanova told the news agency that the union representatives plan to distribute 502,000 rubles ($17,000) collected in the republic to children being treated in Moscow hospitals and to families of special forces troops and Emergency Situations Ministry officers who died rescuing the hostages. In mid-September, the union already sent some 2 million rubles to Beslan for victims of the tragedy.

Heineken Representatives Elected To Bashkir Brewery's Board
Four representatives of the Dutch Heineken company were elected to the board of directors of the Sterletamaq Shikhan beer and beverages factory at a shareholders meeting on 7 October, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported the next day. In August, Heineken bought the Central European Beer Company (TsEPKO), which owns 95 percent of Shikhan. Three representatives of TsEPKO and its affiliates remained on the new board. The board's new chairman will be elected in several days. Heineken owns breweries in St. Petersburg, Nizhnii Novgorod, Sterletamaq, and Novosibirsk. Shikhan sells its products in Bashkortostan, Samara, Perm, Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and Surgut and holds 1.4 percent of Russia's beer market. To increase the company's market share, a new line of bottled beer will be launched by 2005.

New Highway To Be Opened In Ufa
Ufa administration head Pavel Kachkaev told a press conference on 7 October that a new 7.4-kilometer highway will be opened in Ufa by Republic Day on 11 October, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 8 October. The highway will connect the historic southern part of the city with its industrial southern area. Kachkaev said construction began in 1996 and cost 2 billion rubles. He also said the construction is not finished and the highway will be extended to twice its length in two years. It was named after Bashkir national hero Salawat Yulaev, whose 250th anniversary is being celebrated this year.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova