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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 27, 2003

27 May 2003
Parliament To Consider Prosecutor's Appeal Against Language Law
The State Council presidium on 26 May voted to include the protests of chief prosecutor Kafil Amirov regarding the republican language law in the 29 May agenda of the State Council's plenary session, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The prosecutor complained that some provisions of the law, adopted in July 1992, contradict federal law, in particular those that specify that Tatar and Russian can be used in Tatarstan's industry, transport, communications, and engineering sectors. Under federal law, the use of the Russian language is mandatory in those sectors.

The presidium decided to postpone the parliamentary deliberations on whether to appeal to the Russian Constitutional Court, questioning the legality of Article 3 of the Russian language law, which stipulates the mandatory use of the Cyrillic script countrywide. Tatarstan's State Council chairman advised the presidium members to file the appeal later this fall because the court is already considering two appeals from the republican parliament and one from the Tatar Supreme Court -- all of which are related to the new Tatar Constitution.

Parliamentary Speaker Says Preparations For Kazan Millennium Are Slow
During the meeting of the Tatar State Council presidium, parliamentary speaker Farid Mukhametshin said that Kazan could learn from St. Petersburg in planning the city's millennium anniversary, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Mukahmetshin, who headed Tatarstan's delegation at the official celebrations of St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary on 23-24 May, said that he and his counterparts "thoroughly analyzed the organization of the anniversary-related festivities.... In my view there are only general preparations being undertaken [in Kazan]. One cannot observe any well-organized, concentrated, and intensive work."

Federal Finance Minister Put In Charge Of Kazan Anniversary Celebrations
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has appointed Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin as deputy chief executive of the state commission organizing the celebrations of the Kazan millennium anniversary, reported on 26 May. Until recently, this seat was occupied by Valentina Matvienko, deputy prime minister in charge of social security affairs. Matvienko was withdrawn from the commission after being appointed Russian presidential envoy to the Northwest Federal District. Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs the commission.

Tatar Company Enters Moscow Media Market
Watanim television and radio company, which will serve the cultural needs of Tatar and Turkic people, obtained a license for radio broadcasting in Moscow and the Moscow Oblast, reported on 26 May. The company was originally set up in Kazan, but has now ceased its activities there in order to move to the Russian capital.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkirenergo Seeks To Centralize Financial Flows, Promote More Discipline Among Customers
Nikolai Kurapov, general director of the Bashkirenergo joint-stock company, told a meeting of the Bashkir government's presidium on 26 May that the debts of the republic's electricity and heating consumers "prevented the entire energy sector from operating normally," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported today. The general director said that the companies that resell the energy -- mostly municipal heating companies -- had failed to pay for supplies on time. Kurapov suggested that this problem could be solved by transferring the resale function to Bashkirenergo. The municipal heating companies would then only be paid for transporting the energy. Kurapov also noted that later this year, Bashkirenergo will set the energy tariffs for 2004 before the Bashkir parliament approves the annual budget. The republican budget will reportedly stipulate that the Bashkir regions secure the parts of their budgets that will be spent on energy.

Banks Report Soaring Investments From Industry, Private Customers
According to the press service of Bashkortostan's National Bank on 26 May, during the first quarter of 2003 republican industries increased their deposits by 37 percent, reaching 6.9 billion rubles ($219 million). Deposits of private individuals increased by 17 percent through the first three months of 2003, totaling 23 billion rubles. The republic's industries and businesses, however, still owe 47.5 billion rubles in unpaid loans to local banks. Eighteen banks are currently operating in the republic with a total authorized capital stock of 6.7 billion rubles.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi