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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 9, 2003

9 May 2003
Shaimiev Meets With WWII Veterans
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev met on 8 May with 800 World War II veterans from across the republic to mark Victory Day, celebrated on 9 May, reported the same day. Tatarstan lost 350,000 people during the war -- half of those who fought. Shaimiev said that there are five Soviet Union Heroes, one Russia Hero, 25 Heroes of Socialist Labor, around 11,000 war veterans, and 3,700 war widows currently living in Kazan. On 9 May, war veterans are given free telephone calls to Russian cities, the CIS, and the Baltic states. The Tatar Cabinet of Ministers paid war veterans who receive a minimum pension 250 rubles ($8) as a Victory Day present. During May, war veterans are also given discounts on consumer services.

Imprisoned Teens Cut Veins
Forty-two convicts at a Kazan penal institution for teenagers cut their veins on 7 May, reported the next day, citing the Russian Justice Ministry in Tatarstan. Eight of the injured were hospitalized. The prisoners were protesting demands by the prison administration to observe institutional regulations. The convicts were provided with psychological counseling and the situation in the institution is under control, the report said. Over 200 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 reside at the institution.

Residents Of Collapsed Hostel Dissatisfied With New Apartments
Former residents of a Kazan hostel that collapsed one year ago killing two people, staged a picket on 8 May near the site of the tragedy, reported the same day. The former residents were protesting because they are dissatisfied with their new accommodation. On the orders of Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, the Kazan administration allocated 10 million rubles ($321,500) for the construction of a new hostel and another 1.5 million rubles were spent on financial support and arranging temporary accommodation. All the 349 residents who survived the collapse were given new apartments of similar size; some of them have been queuing for more than 20 years to obtain bigger apartments.

Number of Telephone Subscribers Grew Threefold In Past Decade
Tatar Communications Minister Rinat Jelelov said on 8 May that the number of telephone subscribers had grown in the past decade from 434,000 to 1.3 million, reported the same day. The republic's communications sector receives annually 5 billion rubles ($161 million) in gross income and pays 1 billion rubles in taxes. The branch also attracts 1 billion rubles in investments every year. Some 98 percent of rural residential areas are connected by telephone. In the last 10 years, 35 radio transmitters were launched in addition to the 10 that previously operated, while the network of television transmitters increased from 26 to 89. The number of residents capable of receiving Russia-wide and republican television programs rose from 80 to 99 percent.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan's Communists Celebrate Victory Day In Modestly...
On the eve of the Victory Day celebrations marking the anniversary of the end of World War II on 9 May, activists of the Communist Party branch in Bashkortostan distributed 3,500 greeting cards personally signed by party leader Gennadii Zyuganov among war veterans in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday. The deputy chairman of the local party branch, Valerii Shiryaev, told reporters on 8 May, "we would be glad to make more solid presents to the veterans, for example TVs or VCRs, but the party doesn't have the money for this." On 9 May, Bashkir Communists laid flowers at the graves of World War II heroes Aleksandr Matrosov and Minnigali Gobeidullin in Ufa separate from the official ceremony attended by President Murtaza Rakhimov.

...As Unified Russia Offers Food Baskets To Some Veterans
Meanwhile, the Bashkir branch of Unified Russia chose 170 World War II veterans residing in Ufa to hand out Victory Day gift baskets near the monument to the victims of political repression in Ufa on 8 May, RosBalt reported yesterday. The baskets included cans of stewed meat, condensed milk, tinned fish, and tea. Roestem Ekhmedinurov, deputy head of the Unified Russia branch in Bashkortostan, told RosBalt that by the 60th anniversary of Victory Day in 2005 his party would build a special park in Ufa for veterans.

Only Some 28,000 WWII Vets Left In Republic
In his traditional Victory Day greeting issued on 8 May, President Rakhimov said that about 28,000 World War II veterans live in Bashkortostan and that some 6,000 died in 2002. A total of 700,000 of the republic's residents fought in the 1941-1945 war; some 320,000 were killed in action and more than 200,000 were decorated. Some 300 of them received the highest Soviet combat awards -- the Star of the Soviet Union Hero and the full Order of Glory.

More Than 4,000 HIV Positives In Bashkortostan
According to Bashkortostan's Health Ministry on 8 May, 4,074 people with HIV are officially registered in the republic. More than 80 percent of them are young people between 18 and 30 years of age and 179 of them are children under 18 years. Some 73 percent of the infection cases are linked to the use of dirty syringes by drug addicts.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi