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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 29, 2003

29 January 2003
Colorado Governor Meets With Tatar Government Officials
Meeting with Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 28 January in Kazan, visiting Colorado Governor Bill Owens said the state of Colorado and Tatarstan have the same approach to the concept of sovereignty, adding that a successful model of sovereignty exists in Tatarstan, Tatarinform reported the same day. He said power in a federal system should come from the bottom up, and that Tatarstan is a very good example of how to successfully work in a federal system and maintain true sovereignty. Owens suggested that a probation period be arranged for Tatar government employees in Colorado and that academic exchanges be increased.

Owens also met on 28 January with Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov, who invited the Americans to take part in an international innovation technology exhibit due to be held in Kazan in June, reported the same day.

The general director of the ICL-KPO VS computer company, Viktor Dyachkov, who attended the meeting, offered his company's help in adapting U.S.-produced computer programs for the Russian market. The possibility of opening a Colorado center at Kazan Technological University was also discussed. Tatneftekhiminvest petrochemical holding General Director Rafinat Yarullin's suggestion that a joint Tatar-American venture on deep oil refining be established found support from the American side, the agency said.

Minister: 150 State-Run Businesses To Be Privatized In 2003
Tatar Land and Property Relations Minister Valerii Vasilev told a meeting of the ministry board on 25 January that the ministry paid some 4 billion rubles ($126 million) in budget revenues in 2002, 180 percent more than in 2001, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 28 January. Vasilev said the ministry's income from land sales increased 460 percent and 130 percent from rents of land. Vasilev also said 135 state-run companies, including Tatenergo, Tatazot, and Tatkhimfarmpreparaty, were privatized in 2002, adding that privatization should be continued to reduce the number of state-run businesses in the republic to an optimum level. He said another 150 companies, including Tatflot, Tattelekom, Stroiplast, the Yeshel Uzen Gorlii Plant, and the Povolzhskii Furniture Factory, are planned to be privatized this year.

Export Contract Restarts KamAZ Assembly Line
KamAZ First Deputy General Director Pavel Poltorykhin told on 28 January that the planned stoppage of the company's assembly line scheduled for 3-10 February was cancelled the company received an order to assemble 133 trucks for the United Arab Emirates. The company had announced the week before that it would halt production on 3-10 February and 3-10 March because demand for trucks usually falls in the first months of the year. Poltorykhin said that in February 2002, the company produced 1,075 trucks, which it can assemble in two weeks. However, the situation has improved, and the February plan was increased to 1,836 trucks, he added.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Election Committee On Composition Of Parliamentary Candidates
Some 600 candidates stated their intention to run for 120 seats in Bashkortostan's State Assembly during the 16 March vote, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday, citing the republican Central Election Commission. However, only 10 percent of the candidates have thus far been officially registered, and the deadline for registering is 13 February. Some 66.5 percent of the candidates proposed their candidacies themselves, the rest were proposed by local branches of nationwide political parties. Bashkortostan's branch of the Unified Russia party offered 111 candidates, the Communists came up with 44, Union of Rightists Forces with 18, Yabloko with eight, the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia with six, and the Agrarian Party with four candidates.

A reported 41 percent of the contenders are from 40 to 50 years old, 35 percent are 51-60 years old. Only 3.4 percent of the State Assembly deputies are incumbents, 3.3 percent are pensioners, and 1 percent are unemployed. Only 16 percent of the candidates are women.

New Governmental Council To Focus On Law Enforcement
President Murtaza Rakhimov issued a decree on 28 January establishing a governmental Council of Public Security, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday. The new 21-member body chaired by the president is to coordinate law-enforcement activities in Bashkortostan. The Council also includes State Assembly chairman Konstantin Tolkachev; Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov; chief federal inspector Engels Kolmokhemmetov; the head of the Federal Security Service branch in the republic, Igor Chernokov; the head of the federal Tax Police branch, Ivan Ivanov; the head of the federal Tax Ministry branch, Reshit Sattarov; chief military commissioner Timofei Azarov; Interior Minister Rafail Divaev; Minister of Civil Defense and Emergencies Marat Magadeev; Finance Minister Ayrat Geskerov; the head of Russia's Customs branch, Nezip Galikeev; Minister of Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Trade Boris Kolbin; and the president of the UralSib Bank, Azat Kormanaev.

UralSib Reports Drastic Increase In Hard Currency Credit Card Holders
The UralSib Bank of Bashkortostan announced a more than fourfold increase in the number of Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard and Cirrus/Maestro international credit card holders during 2002, which allowed for a considerable increase in the amount of "electronic cash" turnover through the year, Rosbalt reported yesterday.

Moscow's Supportive Actions Said To Bring Little Relief To Bashkir Agriculture
Bashkortostan's companies sold 21,800 tons of grain at procurement interventions held by the federal government in support of domestic farmers in 2002-2003, Bashinform reported on 28 January. The agency cited some experts as commenting that "this is a very small amount for a region which collected 4.5 million tons of grain in 2002." The low sales are reportedly explained by unacceptably low prices at the governmental auctions, which were monopolized by resellers who are interested in keeping the auction prices low for higher profits in the regular markets inside and outside Russia.

Ufa's Back Wages Grow Again
Residents of the Bashkir capital Ufa are owed 172 million rubles ($5.4 million) in back wages, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 28 January citing the city administration. The dues are from 1.5 to 2.5 months old, while the bulk of wage arrears (71 percent) are related to construction companies.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi