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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 17, 2003

17 March 2003
Federal Treasury Reports The Incomes From Tatarstan's Economy
Speaking at the annual conference of the federal treasury office in Tatarstan on 15 March, its chief Marat Zaripov said that in 2002 Tatarstan raised 90.2 billion rubles ($2.8 billion) in taxes and income from the state-owned industries, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 17 March. The federal government received 45 percent of that amount, while the republic got 26 percent and municipal budgets 19 percent. Nonbudgetary social-security funds reportedly received the remaining 10 percent.

In 2002, Tatarstan increased the amount of financial transfers to Moscow by 160 percent compared to 2001, while the federal government transferred 14.2 billion rubles ($450.7 million) back to the republic in 2002 in order to compensate for the increasing federal share of its revenues. Some 12.5 million rubles ($396 million) of that sum came as part of the federal program on Tatarstan's social and economic development, which seeks to promote investment in the Tatar economy and increase the number of taxpayers in the republic.

Prime Minister Wants To Keep The Tatar Treasury Department
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, at the same conference, commented on the issue of two treasury offices, federal and republican, coexisting in Tatarstan since 2001, reported on 15 March.

Minnikhanov said that the two organizations "had different tasks," admitting that in future the federal treasury could assume the duties of its republican counterpart.

Wage Arrears On The Rise
Labor Minister Boris Zakharov told the republican coordinating board on wage payment on 14 March that the total wage arrears to workers of Tatarstan's industries is 895.9 million rubles ($28.4 million), RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 17 March. In the first two months of 2003 Tatarstan's wage arrears increased by 27 percent from the year before.

Zakharov mentioned that Kazan's Lenin Gunpowder Plant, the Sviyaga defense-industry plant, the Kazan Precise Machinery Plant, and the KamAZ automotive concern remained the major debtor enterprises. He said that in 2003 KamAZ planned to lay off 7,000 workers to ensure the monthly payment of wages to other workers.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Parliamentary Election Turnout Over 50 Percent
A total of 377 candidates participated in the Bashkir State Assembly elections on 16 March, Russian agencies reported the same day. Twenty-four of 396 registered candidates withdrew their names, while another five candidates obtained registration through court verdicts. The elections were valid in all 120 electoral districts, while the turnout was about 60 percent of some 2.8 million registered voters, Bashinform reported on 17 March, citing Bashkir Central Electoral Commission Secretary Naile Altynova. Turnout of 25 percent was enough for the elections to be valid.

Bashkir Opposition Asks Federal Election Commission To Supervise Parliamentary Elections...
The chairman of the Bashkir political movement Rus Anatolii Dubovskii told RosBalt on 13 March that Bashkortostan's opposition forces appealed the same day to Russian Central Electoral Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov to "introduce special supervision" over preparations for and the holding of State Assembly elections in the republic and vote counting. In their appeal, candidates from parties and groups united in the bloc For Honest and Free Elections warned of the possible falsification of voting results, saying "reliable guarantees against falsification of elections results still have not been provided in the republic." The applicants cited facts of interference of state officials in the campaign and violations made by the republic's election commission.

...As Commission Sends Representatives To Bashkortostan
Two representatives of the Russian Central Electoral Commission, Yevgenii Kolyushin and Sergei Shusharin, and the executive director of the Russian Fund for Free Elections, Andrei Przhezdomskii, arrived in Ufa to oversee the 16 March Bashkir State Assembly elections, RosBalt reported on 17 March. The agency cited the Bashkir election commission as saying an additional 391 observers representing each of the candidates will also supervise the elections.

Tajetdin To Visit Iraq...
A delegation of Russian Muslim and Orthodox religious leaders headed by Central Muslim Religious Board Chairman Telget Tajetdin is to leave for Baghdad on 17 March, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 16 March. Iraqi Ambassador to Moscow Abbas Khalaf said the visit was approved by the Kremlin. Delegation members are scheduled to meet with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and other officials.

...As Gainetdin Issues Appeal To Prevent War Against Iraq
The chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rawil Gainetdin, addressed on 14 March an appeal to heads of Russia's traditional faiths, in which he called on the Russian public, as well as politicians and state leaders of the world, to prevent "a bloody massacre in Iraq," reported the same day, citing RIA-Novosti. Gainetdin said a trend is evident in international policy toward establishing a unipolar world, to subordinate the will of peoples to a single global ideological center, to unify national cultures and traditional religions in a "low-standard mass culture," and to "look for solutions to existing problems not by political and legal means but rather in a military way, bypassing international law." Gainetdin said the Council of Muftis of Russia believes a possible war in Iraq, which could be unleashed without UN sanction, may deteriorate the situation throughout the world and discredit before Oriental communities principles of democracy, concepts of human rights, and ethics of observance of law. "Iraq is a sovereign state and only its people is empowered to choose its leaders," the appeal said.

Rakhimov Says Russia Not Democratic
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 16 March that the state system existing in Russia is not truly democratic, RosBalt reported the same day. After voting in the State Assembly elections, Rakhimov told reporters: "Democracy should not take shape like the one existing in our country. In a democratic state, everything should be done honestly and decently, without insult." He criticized the practice of distributing leaflets defaming candidates and the use of dishonorable methods of campaigning, saying this in no way conforms to democratic principles.

Drug-Trafficking Network Destroyed
Federal Security Service (FSB) Bashkir directorate spokesman Rishat Yumagulov told RosBalt on 13 March that the FSB's Bashkir, Chelyabinsk, and Leningrad directorates seized over 100 kilograms of heroin worth some $6 million in a special operation over several months. Yumagulov said 30 members of an international criminal group, which was first tracked by the Bashkir directorate, were arrested, including citizens of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia. The drug-trafficking syndicate operated in the Ural, Volga, and Northwest Federal Districts and had access to Afghanistan. Drugs were stored in Magnitogorsk, Beloretsk in Bashkortostan, and St. Petersburg, the report said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova