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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 21, 2003

21 January 2003
Former State TV Chief Heading To Belarus
Irek Mortazin, the former chairman of the Tatar branch of the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, has been pegged to head up the Minsk bureau of Russia's RTR state television, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 20 January. Mortazin resigned from his previous post last November after he made critical comments about the federal government's policies in Chechnya on a program that was aired during the 23-26 October hostage crisis in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 and 14 November 2002).

Joint Tatar-Belarusian Venture Sells First Tractors To Neighboring Bashkortostan
Tatarstan's Alabuga Automotive Plant sold its first shipment of 22 Belarus tractors that were jointly produced with Belarus's Minsk Tractor Plant to Bashkortostan on 19 January, ITAR-TASS reported the next day, citing the Alabuga plant's general director, Rawyl Zaripov. The joint venture reportedly plans to produce no fewer than 1,000 Belarus tractors in Tatarstan in 2003. Meanwhile, an unidentified official from the Tatar Agriculture Ministry told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent on 21 January that the joint venture "was unlikely to be a success" because of the high price of the tractors -- one tractor costs in excess of $20,000 -- which will put them out of the reach of "average private, and especially collective, farms."

Federal Envoy To Open Three New Representative Offices In Republic
The office of the presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District plans to open three new representative offices in the Tatar cities of Bogelme, Elmet, and Bua, Efir television reported on 20 January, citing the chief federal inspector to the republic, Marsel Gelimerdenov. The republic already has three such offices in the major cities of Kazan, Chally, and Tuben Kama, which reportedly dealt with more than 10,000 complaints from citizens in 2002, most of which were in the areas of housing and wage payments.

KamAZ Teams Finish First, Third In Dakar 2003 Race
The KamAZ Master team won the international Dakar 2003 off-road truck race on 19 January, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The KamAZ truck driven by Vladimir Chagin was the first to cross the finish line, while the second KamAZ truck driven by Firdewes Kabirov finished in third place. The Czech Tatra team finished in second place.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Yabloko In Bashkortostan Nominates Parliamentary Candidates...
Yabloko's Bashkortostan branch nominated six candidates for the Bashkir State Assembly elections at its conference in Ufa on 19 January, RosBalt reported the next day. Branch Chairman Igor Rabinovich, told the agency that candidates from the party will represent the opposition in the parliamentary elections. The list includes, among others, Yabloko bureau member and correspondent of RFE/RL's Russian Service Artur Asafiev, opposition "Otechestvo" newspaper Deputy Editor in Chief Resul Gilmanov, and opposition "Vechernii Neftekamsk" newspaper founder Eduard Khosnetdinov. Four candidates will run in Ufa electoral districts and the other two in Beloretsk and Neftekamsk.

...As Opposition Tatar Organization Short Of Candidates...
Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center (TIU) presidium announced at its 18 January board meeting that it will be unable to meet its quota of 30 candidates for republican parliamentary elections set by the united opposition electoral bloc, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 January. TIU activists said at the meeting that the lack of Tatar civic leaders and potential candidates is because Tatars lack the right to defend their interests in a legal way in the republic. TIU together with other Tatar civic groups has so far proposed only six candidates for the elections. The opposition bloc also includes the local branches of the Communist Party and Yabloko as well as the Rus Russian ethnic movement.

...While RPM To Back Candidates From Pro-Government Party
A conference of the Bashkir branch of the Russian Party of Peace (RPM) decided not to propose its candidates for the March republican parliamentary elections and to give its support to the regional branch of Unified Russia, Bashinform reported on 20 January. The head of RPM in Bashkortostan, Rinat Nizamov, said his party has the same aims and political positions as Unified Russia, while RPM has no strong and authoritative candidates in the republic.

Communists Criticize Electoral Violations In National Republics
Speaking at a seminar organized by the Communist Party in Bashkortostan on 18 January in preparations for the upcoming republic parliamentary elections, Communist central electoral staff member Vadim Soloviev criticized Chechnya, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan for major electoral violations taking place in those regions, which, he said, look like separate states not connected to Russia, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 January. Soloviev, however, claimed that the Communists' popularity is growing throughout the country and expressed confidence in his party's success in the Bashkir elections. Bashkir Communist branch Deputy Chairman Renat Gebidullin told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 20 January that, although the March parliamentary elections in Bashkortostan are not likely to be democratic, the Communists and other opposition forces will have a better chance than in previous campaigns since heads of city and raion administrations are now prohibited to become deputies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova