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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 19, 2003

19 May 2003
Tatarstan, Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Sign Cooperation Protocol
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Igor Ivanov signed on 16 May in Moscow a three-year protocol on cooperation between the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry and Tatarstan in the sphere of international and economic relations, Tatar-inform, reported the same day. The protocol -- the first document of its kind signed between the ministry and a federation subject -- comes in the wake of the September 1999 decree by the Russian president "on the celebration of Kazan's millennium." The document is intended to help inform the international community about the jubilee and its historical and cultural significance.

State Council To Set Up Youth Chamber
The State Council commission on social issues, children, and youth affairs has recommended that the parliament establish a Public Youth Chamber, reported on 17 May. According to the draft adopted by the commission, the chamber will be a consultative body within parliament and will promote the interests of young people. The youth chamber will comprise representatives, under 30 years old, from youth groups and will gather twice a year. The State Council Legal Directorate, however, noted that the draft regulations on the chamber contradict the Tatar Constitution, according to which the parliament can only form temporary commissions subordinate to the parliament.

POZIS Modernizes Fridge Production
A new refrigerator assembly line was launched on 17 May at the Yeshel Uzen Sergo Plant (POZIS), reported the same day. The Italian-based Cannon Group, which provides engineering solutions, was behind the $20 million, five-year project to modernize production. In 2000-2003, $7 million was invested in the modernization, including deliveries of $5 million worth of equipment from Cannon. The project aims to increase fridge production from the current 260,000 fridges a year to 510,000 a year. In the mid-1990s, the plant produced 5,500 fridges a year. President Shaimiev and Cannon Group President Carlo Fyorentini attended the ceremony.

Tatar Companies Win Tenders
The Kazankompressormash compressor plant has won a tender for the production of $6 million worth of equipment to be used on the Ob oil deposit, Tatar-inform reported on 17 May. Also, the Aznaqai Neftemash plant won a tender to deliver special vehicles for Yukos, a major Russian oil company. The 40 million ruble ($1.3 million) contract will be implemented within six months. Neftemash is a branch of Tatneft, the primary oil producer in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Parliament Supports Return Of 'Sovereignty' To Constitution
The Bashkir State Assembly discussed the possible official reestablishment of Bashkortostan's "sovereign status" on 17 May, RosBalt reported the same day. Vladimir Kashulinskii, leader of the Unified Russia faction in the parliament and faction members Zifket SaetgAliyev and Reshide Soltanova suggested the revision of the republic's new constitution adopted in 2002. The deputies proposed that Bashkortostan should return to the provisions of a previously adopted law, which declared the republic a sovereign state maintaining treaty-based relations with Moscow. Under the June 2001 ruling of the Russian Constitution Court and April 2002 ruling of the Bashkir Supreme Court, the new constitution has replaced the term "sovereignty" with that of "statehood." During the 17 May session, the State Assembly agreed on establishing a commission on the problems of treaty-based relations and the republic's constitutional status.

Tax Ministry Ordered To Look Into Finances Of Opposition Press In Bashkortostan
Bashkortostan's State Assembly on 17 May adopted a resolution commissioning the republic's branch of the Russian Tax Ministry to check the financial sources of the opposition newspapers "Vecherniy Neftekamsk," "Otechestvo," "Nash Vybor," and "Vybor Naroda," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The document proposed by Vladimir Koshulinskii, head of the Unified Russia faction in the Bashkir parliament, requires ministry officials to present their reports by 18 June. All of the newspapers are printed outside Bashkortostan.

Rakhimov's Annual Message To Parliament
In his annual message to the Bashkir State Assembly on 17 May President Murtaza Rakhimov emphasized the importance of expanding the powers of the republican government, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday. Rakhimov reportedly promoted federalism "as the main principle for building Russian statehood." According to the document, the main task for Bashkortostan's parliament in 2003 will be adjusting the republican laws to the new constitution adopted in 2002. Rakhimov denounced the "growing bureaucracy of the state apparatus, the corruption, which slow down the development of market relations and entrepreneurship." A large part of the message focused on the "already achieved improvements" in the republican economy. Referring to the outcome of the March 2003 vote for the republic's parliament, Rakhimov expressed regret that no representatives of the Russian Communist Party managed to become deputies and lauded the success of Unified Russia, which entered more than 90 deputies to the 120-seat body.

Audit Chamber Says Bashkir Oil Industries Practice Tax Evasion
A meeting of the Russian Audit Chamber acknowledged on 16 May that due to the over-exaggerated production expenses of the Bashkir oil processing industries, the federal budget was short more than 1.5 billion rubles ($47.6 million) in unpaid taxes in 2002, RosBalt reported the same day. The chamber reportedly unveiled the illegal ways Bashkir industries get their VAT and other taxes refunded by Moscow. Detailed reports on these misdemeanors will be sent to the Russian Tax Ministry, the Bashkir president, the Federal Assembly, and the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga federal district.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi