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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 16, 2003

16 January 2003
Alfa-Bank Opens Branch In Tatarstan
Alfa-Bank has officially registered a branch in Tatarstan, "Vedomosti" reported on 15 January, citing the bank's press service. The head of the press service, Vadim Yurko told the daily that the branch has a capitalization of 350 million rubles ($11 million). Yurko said the bank expects its clients to include companies working in the petrochemical, defense, and agriculture industries. The paper also cited an unidentified analyst who said that Tatarstan does not have a friendly environment for outside banks, as the banking sector is government-controlled in the republic. He added that Alfa-Bank would likely not be able to work successfully in the republic without agreements with the highest levels of government. All Moscow-based banks currently operating in the republic, such as Vneshtorgbank, Zenit, NIKoil, KMB-bank, and Russkii Standart, use either affiliates or representative offices.

Cell-Phone Usage Rising Steadily
Tatar First Deputy Communications Minister Oleg Natanson said on 15 January that the number of cell-phone users in the republic has increased from 10,000 in 1997 to 460,000 today, reported the same day. TAIF-Telkom, the market leader in Tatarstan, has 260,000 subscribers, making it the sixth-largest cellular provider in Russia. Tatinkom, another Tatarstan-based provider, has 117,000 subscribers, making it the ninth-largest provider in Russia. Cell-phone penetration has also increased in the past three years from two users per 100 residents to 9.28 per 100 residents.

KamAZ Loses Domestic Market Share, Increases Exports
The KamAZ automobile plant produced 20,056 trucks in 2002, a decrease of 2,360 in comparison with the previous year, reported on 15 January, citing the KamAZ press service. The decrease was the result of a drastic loss of market share in Russia from 43 percent to 29 percent. This trend was visible, however, in all Russian automobile makers largely because of increased imports of used vehicles flooding the Russian market, the press service said. At the same time, however, KamAZ also increased its exports last year, sending 6,098 trucks abroad, which was double what it exported the previous year. KamAZ also produced 38,500 Oka cars in 2002, an increase of 663 in comparison with 2001.

Republic Announces Tax-Collection Figures For 2002
Tatarstan's tax service collected 64.7 billion rubles ($2.03 billion) in taxes in 2002, reported on 15 January, citing the Tatar Administration of the Russian Tax Ministry. The tax service transferred 31.9 billion rubles, or 98.1 percent of the planned amount, to the federal budget and 32.8 billion rubles to the republican budget, which was slightly more than the planned amount.

Tatar Forum To Open In Moscow
A forum titled "The Tatar Issue in Russia" opens at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow on 16 January, Tatar-inform reported on 15 January. The forum, which was initiated by the Moscow-based Watan organization and by the editorial staff of the "Tatarskii mir" newspaper, is intended to promote the study of the history, culture, and statehood of the Tatar people, as well as the role of Tatars in developing Russian statehood and solving problems related to Russia's federal system. Participants are also expected to discuss problems faced by Turkic peoples and Russia's relations with the East.

Head Of Travel Agency Arrested In Relation To Killing Of Rival
Kamil Terjemanov, the director of the Salavat travel agency, was taken into policy custody on 13 January in relation to an investigation into the death of Rudolf Shadrin, the commercial director of another travel agency, Inturtsentr (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 14 January 2003), "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 15 January. Investigators had already searched the Salavat office and Terjemanov's apartment on 11 January, the daily said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Political Parties Intensify Preparations For Bashkir Parliamentary Vote
The 16 March elections for Bashkortostan's State Assembly will be held according to the old single-mandate system, because the new Russian law on political parties demanding the equal division of parliamentary seats between political parties and representatives of the republic's regions will not come into force until 14 July, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 15 January.

Nevertheless, such national political parties as Unified Russia and the Communist Party have already expressed their intentions to form factions in the assembly by nominating candidates for all 120 voting districts in Bashkortostan.

Igor Rabinovich, head of the Yabloko party branch in Bashkortostan, told reporters on 15 January that on 19 January his party "would propose some 5-6 candidates for the parliament, 3 or 4 of whom may succeed," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported.

Bashkirenergo To Pay Lower Network-Membership Fees Than Tatenergo
The Federal Energy Commission (FEK) approved new membership fees for Russia's Unified Energy Systems, Bashkortostan's Bashkirenergo, Tatenergo, Irkutskenergo, and Dagenergo beginning from1 January 2003, reported on 15 January. Bashkirenergo will have to pay 5.24 rubles ($0.16) for each megawatt-hour of energy received through the national electricity network, while Tatenergo of neighboring Tatarstan is obliged to pay 60.78 rubles ($1.9).

Republic To Spend Less Than 1 Percent Of Its Budget On Social Security
Bashkortostan's budget will allocate 300 million rubles ($9.4 million), or 0.96 percent of the total, to social security programs in 2003, Rosbalt reported on 15 January. The bulk of this sum ($5 million) will reportedly be distributed in subsidies to individuals, while the program for crime prevention will get $1.2 million. The rest of the funds will be used for programs against drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes and for supporting pregnant women, orphans, and disabled children.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi