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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 1, 2003

1 May 2003
Tatarstan Celebrates May Day...
Tatarstan's Trade Unions Federation celebrated the traditional holiday of Spring and Labor on 1 May by marching from Kazan's Freedom Square to Gorkii Park and holding a meeting, which demanded "adequate" salaries for Tatarstan's workers, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The federation's chairwoman, Tatyana Vodopyanova, said at the meeting that her organization, along the national Trade Unions Federation, demands the urgent payment of wage arrears and further securing of timely payments, as well as increasing the official minimum wage. The trade unions also opposed the current pension and housing reforms introduced by the Russian government, demanding more social security for the working people.

According to an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent, some 4,000 people joined the march and the meeting, which was jointly organized by the Trade Unions Federation and the Unified Russia party branch in Tatarstan. The meeting involved groups of state-owned enterprises employees, and teachers and students from Kazan's higher education institutions.

...As Wages Arrears Resume Growth
According to Tatarstan's State Statistics Committee on 29 April, wage arrears in the republic have increased to 963 million rubles ($30.5 million) through April 2003, with 430 million rubles of this amount attributed to the agricultural industries. Collective farms in the Elke, Bauli, Drozhzhanoi, Kama Tamagi, Spas, Mamadish, Minzele, Yanga Chishme, Sarman, and Tetesh regions of Tatarstan are reported to top the list of wage delinquents, owing 4-6 months in wages.

Government Concerned With Growing Unemployment
During his two-day inspection trip to 12 rural regions in the oil-rich southeast of Tatarstan, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov held a meeting with regional and city administration heads in Leninogorsk on 30 April to discuss the growing unemployment in their areas, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 1 May. Minnikhanov admitted that his government "had underestimated the situation on the labor market," although it should have been alerted by the fact that the volume of unemployment subsidies paid doubled in 2002. He also cited a doubling of unemployed in rural areas, a trend which in his opinion is likely to deteriorate with further handover of state-owned farms to private owners.

Minnikhanov suggested that regional administrations and the republican government should join efforts in fighting unemployment and "use the help of the Tatneft oil company," the biggest employer in the southeast with some 150,000 workers. Later during the same meeting, Industry and Economy Minister Aleksei Pakhomov, Labor Minister Boris Zakharov, and Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhautdinov said the employment situation could only be improved by creating favorable conditions for private businesses and new investments to the industrial sector.

Initial Results Of 2002 National Census For Tatarstan
According to the preliminary results of the October 2002 national census recently released by the Russian State Statistics Committee ( and cited by RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 1 May, 3.78 million people currently reside in Tatarstan, with 1.75 million of male (45.2 percent of the total) and 2.027 million (54.8 percent) of female. Urban residents make up 2.79 million (73.8 percent), while only 0.99 million people (26.2 percent) live in the rural areas. The capital Kazan has 1.1 million residents, while the republic's second city Chally has 510,000.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Suit Against VIP-Motorcades Reaches European Court
Ufa resident Yevgenii Kareev, who sued the Bashkir and Russian governments for illegally blocking streets to let the motorcades of senior officials pass, has sent a similar appeal to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, RosBalt reported on 30 April. Kareev told the news agency that the "possibilities for considering the controversial issue in the courts of the Russian Federation are over." Kareev said that, between February and April, he filed five lawsuits to different courts, but they all refused to consider the cases. Kareev said that the refusals were "evidence that Russia's judicial power depended on the executive." In his appeal to the Strasbourg court, he demanded that the Russian authorities pay him 100,000 euros ($112,534) in compensation.

Bashneft Says Minor Shareholders' Representatives Eligible For New Board Of Directors
Nail Rizvanov, an adviser to the Bashneft general director, denied reports that representatives of the company's minor shareholders were prevented from taking part in the 28 April shareholders meeting (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 April 2003), saying that all shareholders had enough time to complete the registration procedure. Rizvanov said independent candidates of minority shareholders -- Vostok Nafta Executive Director Alex Williams and Basic Element metals group Executive Director David Geovanis -- were included in the list of candidates for a new board of directors. Rizvanov added that information on election results will be available in two weeks, after the voting protocol is confirmed, in accordance with the law on joint-stock companies. Currently the Bashneft board of directors is headed by the son of the Bashkir president, Ural Rakhimov. The Bashkir government controls some 85 percent of the oil company.

Fire-Safety Regulations Widely Violated In Schools
Two thirds of Bashkortostan's kindergartens and secondary schools are not equipped with fire alarms and do not have fire extinguishers, RosBalt reported, citing the republic's Emergency Situations Ministry on 30 April. The data was revealed after checks were made by the fire department on the orders of the republican government. The majority of schools built from wood were not protected from fire or lightening strikes. Many schools had immovable metal bars on windows, in violation of safety regulations. Thirty-six fires occurred in the republic's educational institutions in 2002 and another eight have taken place this year.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova