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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 25, 2003

25 February 2003
Government Approves Employment Program
The Cabinet of Ministers adopted on 24 February a three-year republican program on promotion of employment and protection of the jobless, Tatar radio reported the same day. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said the employment situation is deteriorating. Tatar Labor Minister Boris Zakharov told the meeting that the number of newly employed workers exceeded in 2002 that of firings by 8 percent, while in the previous three years, the demand for labor increased and hirings exceeded firings. The number of employees laid off because of collapse of companies or staff reduction grew from 7,500 in 2001 to 12,000 in 2002.

Tatarstan's Envoys Gather In Kazan For Annual Meeting
A review of the activity of Tatarstan's representations abroad, in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Russian regions in 2002 and plans for the current year were discussed on 21 February at a meeting of republican envoys held by Tatar presidential administration head Egzem Gobeidullin, reported the same day. Presidential foreign affairs adviser Timur Akulov criticized the envoys for their lack of success in attracting investment to the republic, adding that all investment coming to Tatarstan is not direct. He also criticized the Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Ministry and the Economy and Industry Ministry for ignoring business proposals from the envoys.

Tatarstan has 23 representations abroad, in the CIS, and in other Russian regions.

Budget Employees To Join Nationwide Protest
State budget employees from Tatarstan will join a nationwide protest on 26-28 February organized by the Russian Association of Trade Unions of Nonindustrial-Sector Employees, reported on 21 February. Participants demand that the Russian government give up on its plan to reform the system of payment of state employees, increase their salaries by 50 percent by April and 100 percent by January, and raise minimum student grants to 500 rubles. The chairman of the Tatar Educational Workers Trade Union, Yurii Prokhorov, said, "There should not be any hurry with this reform, as it has not been properly financed." He said the salary increase proposed by the government is humiliating to state employees and expressed belief that "state employees have every chance to assert their rights."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa To Erect Monument To Victims Of Local Military Conflicts
A sculpture of a mourning mother will be installed in Ufa's Victory Park to commemorate the soldiers from Bashkortostan killed in action in military conflicts in Russian armed forces, RosBalt reported on 24 February. In the last 40 years, 800 servicemen from the republic were killed in 38 different countries, with about 300 killed in both Afghanistan and in Chechnya. The monument will reportedly be opened on 12 June during the celebrations of Ufa's anniversary.

State Transport Company To Use KamAZ Engines With Mercedes Buses
Bashkortostan's Bashavtotrans public transport company will replace the original engines of some 200 Turkish-produced Mercedes city buses with engines produced by Tatarstan's KamAZ automotive concern to extend their service life, RosBalt reported on 24 February. The buses were purchased by the republic in the early 1990s and are now completely worn out. KamAZ engines are said to "perfectly match" the imported buses, while the cost of repair will be 4-5 times lower then expected. Bashavtotrans plans to sign a treaty on further cooperation with KamAZ for using its engines with other vehicles.

Federal Official Cites Poor Performance Of Bashkir Courts
Bashkortostan's chief federal inspector, Engels Kolmokhemetov, told the annual conference of republican judicial-system officials that in 2002 they performed poorly in comparison with other regions of the Volga federal district. He cited the increasing number of trials with violations of the Criminal and Administrative codes, which tripled in 2002 compared to the previous year and reached 19.4 percent.

Government Says Low Investment Caused By Inaction Of Republican Industries
Investment in Bashkir industries dropped seriously in 2002, Bashinform reported on 24 February, citing a "reliable source" in the republic's government. The source was quoted as saying that local company heads are expected to improve the existing situation by learning how to attract investment without relying on state support.

In 2002 the Bashkir government contributed only 14 percent of overall investment to Bashkir industry, while in previous years its share varied from 35 to 40 percent.

Israeli Delegation To Visit Ufa
A delegation from the Israeli Embassy in Moscow led by first deputy secretary Nisan Amdor is due to arrive in Ufa on 25 February for talks on bilateral economic and cultural cooperation, Bashkir State Radio reported the same day.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi