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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 22, 2003

22 January 2003
Minnikhanov Emphasizes Importance Of Old Housing Program...
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 21 January chaired a special governmental meeting devoted to the program of razing old housing, through which 37,000 families have received free apartments since 1996, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 22 January. He urged the responsible officials and businessmen of the republic to pay more attention to fulfilling the program, which is to be finished by 2005.

Major republican industries, such as Tatneft oil company, Tatspirtprom alcohol company, and Tatenergo heat and power company are major voluntary contributors to the program's fund. In the light of the upcoming Kazan millennium celebrations planned for 2005, in the next two years the program will concentrate on helping the 10,000 families residing in run-down housing in the Tatar capital.

...And Urges Affirmative Action For Local Oil Product Suppliers
Also on 21 January, Minnikhanov met the top managers of private companies dealing with retail sale of gasoline and oil products in Tatarstan. He told the meeting that "it would be better if you bought fuel and lubricants from [Tatarstan's] Tatneft and Tatnefteproduct," explaining that if they rely on suppliers from outside Tatarstan, they will deprive the republican budget of funds from the tax on oil products, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Under the new regulations in place this year, the regions are to benefit from the excise on oil products, which was previously under Moscow's control. Tatarstan's budget expects 1 billion rubles ($31 million) in revenue from the excise this year alone.

However, Minnikhanov admitted that retailers could buy oil products from nondomestic suppliers if they were not available from the local ones. As for retailers who work with nondomestic suppliers, he promised a "joyous life" for those companies, which would involve constant inspections and inspections by various state monitoring bodies.

Due to their lack of a gasoline plant, Tatneft and Tatnefteproduct currently offer gasoline at higher prices than in the neighboring regions, because they are taking fuel from Bashkortostan's oil-processing industries in exchange for oil supplies. This situation is expected to be resolved after the Tuben Kama Oil-Processing Plant is completed in the next two years.

Housing Sector Claims Majority Of Republic's Spending
Tatar Minister of Economy and Industry Aleksei Pakhomov told a cabinet meeting on 21 January that the republic's spending will total 1.3 billion rubles ($40.6 million) in 2003, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 22 January. Some 51 percent of this sum will be used for modernizing the housing sector: repairing boiler stations, heating networks, and water-purification facilities. The remainder will be distributed among education, sport, communications, and culture.

Report: Average Salary Nears Poverty Line
According to the Tatar government's Center of Economic and Social Research, the minimum expense for food, essential clothing, and housing, the poverty line, in the republic is 3,796 rubles ($118.6), Intertat reported on 21 January. The most recent report from Tatarstan's State Statistics Committee said that the average monthly salary in the republic is currently about 3,900 rubles ($121.87).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tajetdin Promotes Teaching All Traditional Religions In Schools
The head of the Ufa-based Central Religious Board of Muslims of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, Supreme Mufti Telget Tajetdin, told a press conference on 21 January that Russia's Muslims call for teaching courses on not only Orthodox culture but also on Judaism and Islam in secondary schools, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Tajetdin said information about all three faiths should be collected in a single textbook, since any cultured person should know about all traditional religions in the country. The mufti stressed the "great respect" Muslims have for representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian people, adding that "we should not forget that 80 percent of the country's residents are Russians and Orthodox believers." He also said it is necessary to educate Russia's residents to be tolerant toward different peoples and to realize the multinational nature of the Russian statehood, noting that the current system of education contributes very little to meeting those aims. Tajetdin called for cooperation between state bodies and national civic groups to prevent interethnic conflicts and nationalist trends at the very beginning. He warned that "certain forces" seek to take advantage of interethnic and interconfessional relations and pointed out that the media have become more responsible in this respect.

Bashinformsvyaz To Provide 40,000 New Telephone Lines In 2003
The republic's Bashinformsvyaz telecom provider plans to invest 341 million rubles ($10.7 million) in developing telephone networks and to install 40,000 telephone lines this year, Bashinform reported on 21 January, citing the company's press service. An additional 250 million rubles ($7.9 million) will be allocated for construction of telephone stations, 144 kilometers of fiber-optic communication lines, as well as an apartment building and residence in a health resort for company employees.

Youth Parliament To Be Set Up In Bashkortostan
The Bashkir Council of Children's and Youth Associations involving representatives of 12 civic groups decided at a meeting on 21 January to establish a youth parliament in the republic, RosBalt reported the same day. The measure, initiated by the Bashkir Union of Democratic Youth, is intended to help prepare youth for public activity, form its legal culture, and develop the legal basis of youth policy. A bicameral parliament, with the upper chamber comprised of civic-group leaders and the lower chamber involving organization members, is to be set up by February.

Justice Ministry To Verify Reports On Parliamentary Candidates' Property
The Bashkir Justice Ministry was charged by a Bashkir presidential decree with verifying the data provided by Bashkir State Assembly candidates about their property, Bashinform reported on 20 January. The decree also orders the heads of city and raion administrations to provide free use of premises, transport, communication, and equipment to electoral commissions and local self-government bodies. The Interior Ministry is to guard electoral commissions' offices and documents, while the Media Ministry and the State Television and Radio Company Bashkortostan were charged with releasing information about the campaign.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova