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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 12, 2004

12 November 2004
Tatarstan State Council Approves Budget On Second Reading
Tatarstan's State Council on 11 November approved on second reading the draft republican budget for 2005, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Minor adjustments suggested by the cabinet of ministers were made to the draft, while the parliament rejected amendments promoted by Deputy Aleksandr Shtanin, who sought to eliminate the budget deficit forecast in the draft budget. Shtanin, who represents the Equality and Legality movement RiZ reminded deputies that in 2003 and 2004 the republican government reported budget surpluses by the end of the year. He said revenues for 2005 should be estimated at 53.7 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) and not the 43.5 billion ($1.5 billion) predicted by the government.

Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov explained that the draft document referred to "macroeconomic indicators taken from the federal budget" and reflected budgetary shortfalls that resulted from taking tax revenues from mineral resources from the republic's jurisdiction.

Following the vote on Shtanin's proposal, President Mintimer Shaimiev told deputies that "it would be incautious" to expect extra budget incomes in 2004, given the negative forecast for global oil prices.

...As Deputies Prepare Package Of Amendments To Putin's Government-Reform Initiative
Tatarstan's State Council on 11 November approved on first reading 19 amendments to a federal bill that would eliminate elections of regional governors, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The drafts prepared by Tatar deputies after they expressed disagreement with President Vladimir Putin's reform proposal during the 25 October session of parliament ("RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 October 2004). During that session, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev called on deputies to approve Putin's proposal, but suggested that they compile a list of amendment proposals.

Among the proposed amendments were calls to expand the powers of regional parliaments to approve gubernatorial heads appointed by the Russian president, and to abolish the president's right to dissolve parliaments that fail to approve the president's appointment twice. The parliamentarians also suggested that the proposal, if it becomes law, only be valid until 2010.

The amendments will be proposed in the Russian State Duma by State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, Duma Deputy Aleksandr Salii (Communist), and Marat Galeev, who chairs the State Council's committee on economy, investments, and entrepreneurship, and heads the Tatarstan-Yanga Gasyr faction.

Tatar Muslim Leader Expresses Condolences Over Arafat's Death
Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board Chairman Gosman khestret Iskhaq told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 11 November that he believes that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat contributed during his life to "building a peace bridge between the Arabs and the Israelis." Gasman said that Tatarstan's Muslims consider it a special sign that Arafat died during the holy month of Ramadan and will pray for his soul, "for he was the man who resumed his way on the path of peace." He added that "we expect the new [Palestinian leader] to be someone who will not contribute to the downgrading of the current status of Islam."

Tatarstan's Oil-Tanker Dreams Officially Dead
Tatarstan's Yeshel Uzen shipbuilding plant has sold to a Turkish company the unfinished shell of what was intended to be the republic's first oil tanker, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 November. In the early 1990s, the Tatar cabinet planned to create its own oil-tanker fleet to facilitate the export of Tatar oil. However, the initiative was stalled until 2002, when construction on the tanker began.

Yeshel Uzen remains Russia's major producer of small and medium-size military and civilian ships, including armored vessels, fishing boats, and hovercraft.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkirenergo To Sue Sterlitamaq Synthetic Rubber Plant
Bashkirenergo spokesman Vyacheslav Abramenko told reporters on 11 November that the company will appeal to Bashkortostan's Arbitration Court to reimburse the 552 million rubles ($19 million) owed by the Kauchuk synthetic rubber plant in Stelitamaq for electricity, Interfax reported the same day. On 21 October the Arbitration Court rejected Bashkirenergo's suit demanding the beginning of bankruptcy procedures against Kauchuk, which led the energy company to the conclusion that the plant is financially well-off. Bashkortostan's government reportedly owns a controlling 25 percent stake in Kauchuk, which is the supplier of raw material for the Yaroslavl, Omsk, and Tuben Kama tire plants.

World Bashkir Congress Concerned With Endangered Bashkir Villages In Sverdlovsk Oblast
The executive committee of the World Bashkir Congress will hold a special meeting on 18 November to consider the situation in Sverdlovsk Oblast, where ethnic Bashkir villages are currently being merged with the expanding capital of the oblast, an RFE/ RL Ufa correspondent reported on 11 November, citing the congress Chairman Ekhmet Soleimenov.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi