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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 2, 2003

2 May 2003
Communists, LDPR Hold Joint May Day Event
The branches of the Russian Communist Party in Tatarstan and the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) held a joint May Day meeting on 1 May in Gorkii park, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported yesterday. About 1,000 people joined the event, which took place after a meeting organized by Tatarstan's Trade Unions Federation and the Unified Russia party (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 1 May 2003). After demanding lower prices for consumer goods, food, and rents -- similar demands to those already made at the trade unions meeting -- Aleksandr Salii, a Communist deputy in the Russian State Duma, accused the trade unions and Unified Russia party of "concealing the truth about the real reasons for destruction and poverty.... [And] being pro-governmental by origin, they are trying to fool the people by pretending that they are critical of the government." Speakers at the meetings also condemned U.S. policy concerning Iraq and the sale of agricultural lands in Russia. Some 1,000 participants, most of them elderly, joined the event.

New Governmental Body To Develop And Implement Tatarstan's Media Policies
On 1 May, the "Respublika Tatarstan" daily published a presidential decree on establishing Tatmedia, a new republican agency that will oversee the interaction between the government, media, and public, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. President Mintimer Shaimiev's 30 April decree said that the agency was being created because of the need to ensure "openness of information for citizens, protection of their right to information, establishing efficient interaction between state bodies and society, further development of mass media" and was part of the republican program for developing information and communications technologies. Before this decree, Tatarstan's Communications Ministry had born the responsibility for most of the republican government's media policies, after the Press and Mass Communications Ministry was abolished in 2001.

Yeshel Uzen Shipbuilding Plant To Remain State Property After Privatization
A state-owned shipbuilding plant, "Zelenodolskii zavod imeni Gorkogo," in Yeshel Uzen will be transformed into a joint-stock venture with 100 percent of the shares to be left at the government's disposal, Intertat reported on 29 April. Despite assembling a rocket-carrying cruiser, "Tatarstan," for Russia's Caspian fleet in 2002 and obtaining an order for a similar vessel to be built in 2004, the plant is still unable to repay its 629.3 million rubles ($20 million) debt. After privatization the enterprise will reportedly seek to boost the production of civilian craft such as cargo vessels, river-to-sea tankers, and passenger boats.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Court Reinstates Dismissed Head Of Tax Ministry's Bashkir Branch
The Ufa Lenin Raion court has ruled that the 25 March dismissal of Reshit Sattarov, the head of the Russian Taxation Ministry's Bashkir Directorate, was illegal, Bashinform reported on 1 May. Sattarov was fired on the orders of the Russian Taxation Minister Gennadii Bukaev (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 March 2003). The court ruled that Sattarov is to be reinstated and compensated financially for the period of his absence. The court also annulled a punishment inflicted on Sattarov by the minister. Sattarov filed a lawsuit against Bukaev after the latter dismissed him for non-implementation of official tasks and violation of the federal law on the principles of state service. Specifically, the ministry was dissatisfied with Sattarov's refusal to support the claim against Bashkir oil refineries -- the ministry is demanding the payment of 10 billion rubles ($321 million) of compensation for illegal tax breaks. Sattarov said on television that the oil refineries' refusal to pay was "illegal and aimed at non-payment of taxes."

Unified Russia Launches Pre-Electoral Projects In Bashkortostan
The leader of the Unified Russia party in Bashkortostan Rostem Ekhmedinurov told RosBalt on 30 April that his branch is developing two public projects to increase its popularity before State Duma elections in December. One of them aims to arrange a "television reception" in cooperation with the State Television and Radio Company in Bashkortostan. Deputies representing Unified Russia in all elected bodies -- from the State Duma to municipal councils -- will answer voters' questions on television and brief viewers about their activities. The other project targets youth volunteers and will help residents resolve issues affecting their everyday lives. Units of "Unified Russia's Promotional Army" will be formed, which will operate in close contact with state bodies and quickly react to the needs of the population, Ekhmedinurov said. In Bashkortostan, Unified Russia has 14,000 members.

Communists Hold 1 May Meeting
Some 300 Communist Party supporters held a meeting on Ufa's Lenin Square on 1 May, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The participants called for the dismissal of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the government headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, Valentin Nikitin, a State Duma deputy and the leader of the Communist Party in Bashkortostan, said he possesses documents providing evidence that the leadership of the Bashkir Interior Ministry is linked to criminality in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova