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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 9, 2003

9 April 2003
One In Three Draftees Unfit For Military Service
Tatar Military Commissioner Major General Rim Mustaev told a briefing in the Cabinet of Ministers on 8 April that 1,122 draft-age youths in Tatarstan avoided military service in 2002, eight soldiers deserted from their units, and another eight servicemen died during army service, reported the same day. A total of 8,000 residents were called up the previous year, with some 3,000 draft dodgers charged. During the 2002 call-up, 27.7 percent of draftees were declared unfit for service and 242 people, or 2 percent of draft-age youths, were diagnosed as HIV-infected, while in 2000 not a single HIV-carrier was registered among draftees. Fifteen soldiers were freed from service ahead of time in 2002 they had been called up despite health deferments. Of Tatarstan's some 30,000 draft-age youths, the majority have education, family, or health deferments. Thirty-five draftees stated their desire for alternative civil service, Mustaev said, adding alternative service will be launched in January 2004.

Days Of French Culture Begin
Days of the French culture and language in Kazan and Tatarstan opened on 8 April, reported the same day. The event, which was organized by the Tatar Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry's French Center and will continue through 25 April, includes a republic-wide student festival Ma Douce France, a festival for French-language teachers, a competition between schoolchildren and students in French literature, a roundtable "East-West: the Dialogue of Cultures," and a French song festival.

Family Evicted In Yeshel Uzen
Yeshel Uzen authorities have evicted a local family to a smaller apartment for owing back rent, reported on 8 April. The family, including a mother and two sons, 22 and 26, had not been paid rent for four years and owed 19,000 rubles ($607. A Yeshel Uzen court has considered seven similar lawsuits on evicting residents from apartments and delayed most of them. Yeshel Uzen housing authorities are owed more than 20 million rubles.

Private Buses Lower Price
Private buses have lowered their prices in Kazan from 7 rubles ($0.22) to 5 rubles for the first time during their 12 years of service, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 8 April. The owners faced losses after the demand for the service fell sharply because of the 15 percent increase in their price from 6 rubles to 7 rubles on 20 February.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Government Sued For January Rent Increase
Ufa resident Yevgenii Kareev sued Bashkortostan's government for the illegal hike of heating and electricity tariffs imposed in January, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 8 April. Kareev appealed to Bashkortostan's Supreme Court claiming that the republic's cabinet presented no figures to justify the 14 percent hike, as required by Article 57 of the Russian Constitution and the federal law on housing policy.

In February, Kareev sued the Russian and Bashkir governments for violating his right of free movement by blocking the streets for VIP motorcades (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 6 February 2003, "Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 21 and 24 March 2003).

Delinquent Teenagers Offered Target Practice In Belebey
The Military Commissioner's office in the city of Belebey in the Bishbulek region of Bashkortostan organized an "initial army service course" for some 30 local kids, many with police records or records of delinquent behavior, Bashinform reported on 8 April. The youths live in the barracks with soldiers and are trained with firearms, as well as other types of basic military training. This course is reportedly aimed at promoting "patriotic upbringing among youth and preventing teenage crime."

Ministry Prepares For Spring Floods
Bashkortostan's Emergency Situations Ministry expects the peak of this year's flooding season after 20th April, RosBalt reported on 8 April. Antiflooding measures are expected to cost the republic some 3 million rubles ($95,000). More than 100,000 people live in the locations threatened by spring floods.

Bashkortostan Pays Customs Excises to Federal Budget
Customs offices in the Volga Federal District transferred more than 14 billion rubles ($442.2 million) to the federal budget in the first quarter of 2003, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 April. The agency cited Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast as the major contributors of customs excises.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi