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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 9, 2003

9 June 2003
KamAZ Shareholders Vote To Withhold Dividends Payment
Sergei Kogogin, general director of the KamAZ automotive concern, told a shareholders' meeting in Chally on 6 June that more than 20,000 heavy trucks and 3 billion rubles ($97.7 million) worth of spare parts were sold in 2002 bringing the company's total profits up to 78.7 million rubles, 11.8 percent higher than in 2001. Nevertheless, the board of directors voted not to distribute the dividends according to the shares and to invest the profits into the enterprise. Kogogin confirmed that KamAZ plans to take a $100 million loan from Vneshtorgbank to establish a new sales network for promoting the leasing contracts for KamAZ trucks. Kogogin also said that in 2003 the number of KamAZ employees will be reduced by 3,000 to around 47,000 people.

Ilya Klebanov, the chairman of the KamAZ board of directors, told the shareholders' meeting that the Russian government "absolutely trusted" the concern's management, which is "very professional and transparent." Klebanov also admitted that it was "natural" for KamAZ in its current situation not to distribute dividends according to its shares. However, he emphasized that the board of directors had decided to distribute part of the 2002 profits among retired KamAZ workers "as a modest expression of gratitude to those who devoted their lives to the enterprise."

Wage Arrears Down By 37 Percent
Boris Zakharov, Tatarstan's labor and employment minister, told a government meeting in Kazan on 6 June that the back wages owed by the republic's industries currently total more than 714 million rubles ($23.3 million), RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Zakharov noted that wage arrears are down by some 37 percent and the positive trend was observed "even in the agricultural industries, which represent the worst branch of the republic's economy." The Kazan Gunpowder Plant, Nefis Cosmetics joint-stock company, former Defense Ministry plants TPO Sviyaga, Tochmash, and KamAZ, along with the Tatflot river fleet company, head the list of major debtors.

Shaimiev Emphasizes Important Role Of Sabantuy Holiday
Joining the Sabantuy celebrations in the Archa region of Tatarstan on 7 June, President Mintimer Shaimiev addressed the republic's citizens, saying that the Tatar national holiday had "gained universal acknowledgement and had turned into a holiday of all peoples, not only in Tatarstan, but also in many parts of Russia and the world [inhabited by Tatar communities]." Currently Sabantuy is being considered for inclusion on UNESCO's list of masterpieces of "verbal and non-material heritage."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Eurasia Party Expresses Interest In December 2003 Presidential Elections
Eurasia Party leader Aleksandr Dugin told a press conference in Ufa on 6 June that his party would participate in the coming presidential elections in Bashkortostan by proposing its own candidate or supporting one "who is spiritually close" to Eurasia, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Known for his extensive research in geopolitics, Dugin stated that Bashkortostan, due to its variety of ethnic and religious groups, was of special interest to his party as an opportunity to prove the viability of Eurasian ideology. He also noted that Bashkortostan is the first region of Russia in which his party is active, previously having been concentrated in Moscow. Nevertheless, the party already has 60 local offices across Russia, while in the remaining 29 regions it has groups of active supporters.

Official News Agency Targets Tatar National Front
Mazit Khuzin, vice president of the Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy in Ufa, told the state Bashinform agency in an interview published on 6 June that the establishment of Tatar National Front (TMF) in Bashkortostan represented an attempt of "some unclean representatives of the Tatar nation exploiting the Tatar issue like parasites to cause a scandal, using the meeting of writers, artists, and researchers from two brotherly republics, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 June 2003). He said that "some political forces tried to use dirty political techniques to get the Tatar public organizations involved in politics."

Khuzin also claimed that the Zagyr Khekimov, who was elected to lead the Tatar National Front "is strictly controlled and financed" by some unspecified political forces, "which are interested in unveiling only the dark sides of Bashkortostan's life on the eve of elections."

Government Cites Growing Dues For Consumed Energy, Gas
Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov told a government meeting on 5 June that Bashkortostan's debt for consumed electricity and heating has increased by 12 percent so far in 2003, reaching 4.3 billion rubles by 1 June, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Some 8.8 billion rubles ($286.6 million) worth of such energy was supplied to the republic within five months of 2003 and 8.4 billion rubles have already been paid.

Court Confirms Validity Of Bashkir Labor Code
According to Bashinform on 6 June, Bashkortostan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of Alla Lobanova, former employee of an Ufa trolleybus depot, who was refused a 5,000-ruble ($162.8) retirement-benefit payment after she decided to quit her job due to the continuous delays in receiving her wages. Lobanova's employers reportedly claimed that such payments are not obligatory according to the Russian Labor Code, while the plaintiff claimed that Bashkortostan's Labor Code contains a provision requiring the payment. After verifying the compliance of this provision with the Bashkir Constitution, the court ruled that labor legislation was a sphere of joint jurisdiction of federal and republican governments and, therefore, companies fully or partially owned by republic had to fulfill the provisions of the republic's Labor Code.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi