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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 20, 2003

20 March 2003
Deputy Prosecutor-General Unhappy With Tatar Court's Ruling
Volga Federal District Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergei Gerasimov appealed to the Russian Supreme Court to dismiss the Tatar Supreme Court's ruling of 31 January rejecting prosecutors' charges that the Tatar State Council refused to bring the republic's constitution into conformity with federal laws, intertat reported on 19 March. Gerasimov reportedly insisted that federal prosecutors presented enough evidence that the Tatar parliament ignored several resolutions issued by Russia's Constitutional Court and the Russian and Tatar Supreme Courts regarding sections of the constitution violating Russian legislation.

According to Gerasimov, the State Council's willingness to leave the controversial articles in the constitution proves a deliberate refusal to comply with court rulings. He said that this created "obstacles for implementing Russia's sovereignty, citizens' rights, the superiority and direct action of the Russian Constitution" on the republic's territory, "threatening the integrity of Russia's legal space." Gerasimov confirmed that he expects the Russian Supreme Court to adopt a resolution which would further allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to issue a warning to the State Council.

Medicine Prices Lead Rural Populace To Traditional Cures
An average resident of Tatarstan spent 987 rubles ($31) on medicine in 2002, the "Izvestiya Tatarstana" weekly wrote on 19 March, citing the republic's Health Ministry. Kazan residents were reported to have spent the most on medicines, 1,270 rubles ($40), while rural residents spent only 300-350 rubles ($9-11), which is mostly explained by the frequent use of traditional, herbal medicines. This trend is likely to develop further, because after the tax recessions were lifted from medicines in late 2002 the prices of drugs increased by 13-25 percent.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Ufa Authorities Prevent Bashkir Airlines Unions From Picketing Government...
The administration of Ufa's Kirov Raion prohibited the trade unions of Bashkir Airlines pilots to hold a picket near the republic's government building, RosBalt reported on 19 March. The notification signed by deputy administration head Tahir Gereev says holding mass actions in front of the building is forbidden because burial places of famous people and a recreation zone are located there. The deputy chairman of the Bashkir Airlines pilots' unions, Sergei Yeshtokin, told the news agency that the refusal is unfounded as the burial places and recreation zone are in fact located 100 meters from the building, in the Matrosov Park. In addition, Yeshokov said, the raion authorities did not make any other proposal where to hold a picket as legislation prescribes. The picket was intended to protest against deployment of the air company's pilots and to promote the reform of its management. Three-hundred airline employees have announced their intention to demonstrate.

...As Airline Dismisses 126 Employees
Bashkir Airlines management removed from the company the transport aviation subdivision, including one An-24, three An-74, and six Mi-8 jets and the pilots flying them, RosBalt reported on 19 March. Deputy General Director Dmitrii Toropov said the move was ordered by the airline's owner and is to bring the airline's "personnel in line with the volume of work." In 2002, the airline was removed from the control of the Bashkir government and became federal property. Toropov said the company, which had losses of 100 million rubles ($3.2 million) the previous year, is trying to become profitable and to develop flights of its three Tu-154 and one Tu-134 liners. Toropov said the abolishment of the subdivision will lead to the dismissal of 126 employees, adding, "This step is painful but the company is forced to take it" to become profitable.

Court Rules Bashkir Oil Refineries Owe Federal Budget Several Billion Rubles
Russian Deputy Tax Minister Rinat Dosmukhamedov told a press conference at Interfax on 19 March that the Moscow Oblast Arbitration Court declared invalid agreements between several Bashkir oil refineries and companies registered in the Baikonur off-shore zone (see "RFE/RL Tatar Bashkir Report," 3 February 2003, "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 March 2003), "Kommersant" reported on 20 March. The court ruled that agreements were aimed at avoiding taxation and the refineries now owe the federal government several billion rubles in excises and value-added tax. Dosmukhamedov said as a result of rent agreements signed in 2001 between Baikonur-based Korus-Baikonur and Orbitalnye sistemy companies and oil refineries in Bashkortostan, the Komi Republic, Nizhnii Novgorod, and Perm, the federal budget lost 10 billion rubles ($319 million) in excises alone. The company that worked with the Komi plant has returned 3.6 billion rubles to the state.

Bashkir authorities, however, tried to paint the ruling as political. President Murtaza Rakhimov said Russian Tax Minister Gennadii Bukaev should be "thrown out." The republic's leadership accused Bukaev of trying "to bankrupt the Bashkir oil refineries" and "undermine the economy of the entire region" and appealed to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to dismiss him. Instead, the ministry fired Bashkir branch head Reshit Sattarov, who backed Rakhimov on the Baikonur issue.

In his comments, Dosmukhamedov said the Tax Ministry cannot, even if it would like to, bankrupt any company as this is the power of the Federal Bankruptcy Service. Dosmukhamedov said the Bashkir president, whose son Ural Rakhimov controls Bashkir oil refineries, is fighting to protect "family business," adding that Rakhimov might fear that the legality of his decrees on privatization of the oil sector will be questioned.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova