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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 31, 2003

31 March 2003
Communists Hold Antiwar Protest In Kazan
The Communist Party branch in Tatarstan organized a demonstration in Kazan on 29 March against the U.S.-led war in Iraq, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 31 March. About 150 people took part in the demonstration, including members of the Tatar Public Center, the Tatarstan's People's Front, and the republican branch of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Speaking at the protest, Aleksandr Salii, the head of the Communist Party branch in Tatarstan, said that since 20 March, the party had gathered 50,000 signatures of citizens who are against the war. Demonstrators also called on Moscow to help stop the war and to break off diplomatic relations with the United States and Britain until they "cease their aggression," and they also called for the creation of an international commission to disarm the United States.

Labor Minister, Prosecutor Comment On Wage Arrears
Tatar Labor Minister Boris Zakharov told a joint meeting of his ministry and the republican Prosecutor's Office on 28 March that 230,000 republican companies owe workers about 896 million rubles ($28.3 million) in back wages, an increase of 16 percent in comparison with official figures released in January, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 31 March. Tatarstan's chief prosecutor, Kafil Amirov, however, said at the same meeting that not all back wages are included in statistics, adding that his subordinates are investigating cases involving the concealment of wage arrears, as well as the possibility of filing charges against the directors of persistent debtor enterprises.

Nearly One-Fifth Of Population Illegally Employed
Labor Minister Zakharov told the same meeting that about 280,000 people in the republic are illegally employed, working without proper employment contracts, reported on 28 March. Zakharov said that this "shady" sector of the employment market involves 16 percent of the republic's population between the ages of 16 and 72, adding that their estimated combined annual income is 6 billion rubles.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Moscow Pays Bashkortostan Millions To Cover Damage Of Emergency Situation
The Russian government allocated 21.5 million rubles ($700,000) on 27 March for Bashkortostan to help repair damage from floods and storms that occurred in May and June last year, Finmarket reported on 28 March. Of the total sum, 78,000 rubles will be paid to residents who suffered from the emergency situation, while the rest of the money will be spent rebuilding and renovating damaged infrastructure and buildings.

Gazprom Delegation Visits Ufa
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met on 28 March with a visiting Gazprom delegation headed by the gas monopoly's deputy chairman of the board, Aleksandr Ananenkov, to discuss bilateral cooperation, Bashinform reported the same day. The Gazprom officials voiced their intention to study opportunities for Bashkir companies, specifically the Ufa motor plant, to produce equipment for Gazprom. Rakhimov said the republic is working to complete linking all raions to gas pipelines in two or three years.

UralSib Becomes Shareholder Of Investment Finance Group
The UralSib bank took over some 20 percent of Metropol, one of Russia's leading investment finance companies, "Vedomosti" reported on 26 March. The bank, which purchased the stake from the company's management, is going to use it to promote its shares on the market, the daily said.

Ufa Lawyer Initiates Another Suit Against Government Motorcades
Yevgenii Kareev, an Ufa resident who sued the Bashkir and Russian governments for blocking streets during senior officials' motorcades, was informed by the Ufa Kirov Raion court and the Moscow Presnenskii court that they have refused to consider his appeals (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 6 February 2003), "Gazeta" reported on 24 March. The courts notified Kareev that "legislation does not give Kareev the right to defend the rights of an indefinite group of people." Prior to that, the Ufa Kirov Raion court informed Kareev that his suit was accepted and a hearing was scheduled for 24 March. Kareev told the outlet that in addition to the above-mentioned appeals, he sent another one to the Russian Supreme Court to contest the existence of the special order on measures providing the secure and free passage of senior officials' automobiles, which was issued by the Russian Interior Ministry on 6 July 1995. Kareev argued that the act gives preference to the rights of senior officials ahead of the constitutional rights of Russia's other citizens, thus violating the Russian Constitution and federal laws on security.

BAL Changes Lawyers In Lawsuit Against Skyguide
The Bashkir Airlines (BAL) began negotiations with the British law office of Cameron Maccena to represent BAL's interests in the $29 million case against the Swiss air-traffic control service Skyguide for losses stemming from the 1 July mid-air collision between a BAL passenger jet and a DHL cargo jet (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July and 20 September 2002), "Kommersant" reported on 27 March. The daily cited BAL General Director Vener Shakirov as saying that the company's former lawyer, Elmar Giemulla, refused to continue his work "for some subjective reasons," though he still represents the interests of the relatives of some victims of the tragedy.

Bashkir Scholar Receives Reward From Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry
The director of the Institute of Problems of Transportation of Energy Resources and academician of the Bashkir Academy of Sciences, Eskhet Gomerov, was awarded an honorary medal devoted to the 200th anniversary of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Bashinform reported on 28 March. Gomerov led the Society of Indian-Bashkir Friendship for some 30 years and was vice president of the Indian-Russian Friendship Society.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova