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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 2, 2003

2 June 2003
Tatar Parliamentary Speaker Opposes The Abolition Of Sales Tax
Speaking at a meeting of the heads of Volga District legislative bodies in Orenburg, Tatar State Council chairman Farid Mukhametshin raised the issue of a 3 percent sales tax, which is to be abolished in 2004, Intertat reported on 31 May. According to Mukhametshin, abolishing this tax will cause the republic to lose about 1 billion rubles ($32.2 million) of budget revenues because the sales tax incomes are currently shared by the regional and municipal administrations. Others at the meeting reportedly shared his concern and will appeal to the Russian government, the State Duma, and the Federation Council asking to preserve the tax until the federal laws on power sharing between federal, regional, and municipal authorities are adopted.

Communications Giant Tattelecom Undergoes Privatization
Tatarstan's Ministry of Land and Property Relations has approved the privatization plan for the republic's major communications company Tattelecom on 30 May, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The venture, which unites telephone, fiber-optic, and wire-radio networks, will be converted into a joint-stock company with a registered capital of 1.268 billion rubles and 100 percent of the shares owned by the state.

UNESCO Director General Visits Kazan
Koitiro Matsuura, the director general of UNESCO, is due to arrive in Kazan on 2 June to meet with top republican officials and to visit the Kazan Kremlin, which is included in the organization's world heritage chart, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Matsuura and President Mintimer Shaimiev will also sign a communique on the possibility of joint Tatarstan-UNESCO projects.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Potential Presidential Candidate Said To Have Dispute With Rakhimov's Family
Sergei Veremeenko, manager of Russia's International Industrial Bank (MezhPromBank), whose elder brother Aleksandr Veremeenko heads the branch of the Russian Gazprom monopoly in Bashkortostan, Bashtransgaz, is likely to join the race for the republic's presidency, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 1 June (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 May 2003). Veremeenko, who was born in Bashkortostan, used to have close business relations with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and his son Ural until 2002 when he arranged the appointment of his brother as Bashtransgaz director without the Rakhimovs' approval.

Bashkortostan's Tatar Organizations Establish National Front
The Tatar community in the Bashkir Republic gathered for a special meeting in Ufa on 1 June, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported today. Attendees of the meeting discussed the establishment of the Tatar National Front, which will seek to protect Tatar rights in the republic and to organize Tatar votes in this year's elections of State Duma deputies and the republic's president, both in December. Before the event, Zagyr Khekimov, the head of the Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy in Ufa, told Rosbalt on 31 May that Bashkortostan's ethnic Tatar organizations have discussed the possibility of holding an alternative census "for obtaining the actual data about the population" of the Bashkir Republic. Khekimov said that Tatar organizations have questioned the unreleased results of the October 2002 census, because local authorities "are likely to forge the results."

Bashkir Government Loses Controlling Stake In UralSib Bank
The Bashkir government's stake in UralSib Bank has reduced from 50 percent to 37.5 percent, Rosbalt reported on 31 May. More than 19 billion extra shares with a total cost of 1.9 billion rubles ($61.3 million) were reportedly distributed among "the major industries of Russia and Bashkortostan, as well as individual shareholders." Meanwhile, the republican government remains the major UralSib shareholder, while the second-largest share package of 13.4 percent is owned by the joint-stock company UralSibFond.

Rakhimov Meets With Unified Russia's Youth Leader
President Murtaza Rakhimov met with Aleksandra Burataeva, leader of the Unified Russia party's youth division "Molodezhnoe Yedinstvo" in Ufa on 31 June, the presidential press service reported the same day. After hearing Rakhimov's speech, where the president said special attention would be paid to youth, Burataeva praised these efforts and gave him a teddy bear as a present, "symbolizing a strong politician and manager." Nevertheless, she noted that "being a [region's] president or a governor is a manager's job rather than a politician's." On 1 June, Burataeva chaired a seminar on election campaigning for "Molodezhnoe Yedinstvo" leaders from around 40 regions of the Ural and Volga federal districts.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi