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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 18, 2003

18 July 2003
Tatar State Council Refuses Offer Of Early Elections
The Tatar State Council on 17 July rejected the suggestion of Aleksandr Shtanin (Equality and Legality movement), who called for early parliamentary elections and the dissolution of the Central Election Commission based on the 11 July resolution of the Russian Constitutional Court, which ruled that the December 1999 election was not in line with federal law, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15 July 2003). The Tatar court had previously ruled that the election of 49 Tatar State Council deputies, who had already served as republican government officials, was lawful. Under federal law, elected deputies are prohibited from combining their duties with work in other branches of government.

Constitutional Court Confirms President's Power To Shape System Of Government
The Tatar Constitutional Court on 17 July issued a ruling, which confirmed that the president has the power to choose the cabinet and the system of government, Intertat reported the same day. On 4 June, the Tatar Cabinet of Ministers filed a query asking the court to explain Article 94 of the constitution, which says that "the president forms the cabinet of ministers and the system of executive bodies of state authority according to the law." According to the Tatar government, the term "to form" involves a wide range of powers including both the right to appoint ministers and shape the system of government. Federal legislation requires that the cabinet's work be regulated by the Tatar Constitution and special republican laws. However, due to the absence of such a law, the work of the republican government is controlled by the constitution and presidential decrees.

Prosecutor Pledges Early Resolution To Chally Kidnapping Cases
Speaking on Efir TV on 17 July, Tatarstan's prosecutor Kafil Amirov said that Tatar law enforcement bodies have detained a criminal group, which is suspected of involvement in kidnapping Viktor Faber, the deputy general director of the KamAZ automotive concern and a well-known businessman Bulat Bayazitov in Chally. Amirov said that both men would be returned to their families and the perpetrators would be punished. He also claimed that in the future "Tatarstan's law enforcers will not allow kidnappings."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Oil Refineries Said To Object The Tax Ministry's Claim
According to "Vremya novostei" on 17 July, the "Baikonur schemes" used by Bashkortostan's oil refineries for tax evasion were also used by many Russian oil companies, but after the very first claims by Russian tax collectors they paid off all back taxes (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 17 July 2003). The paper wrote that "Bashkir industries, controlled by the republic's leader, did not acknowledge their debts." It also speculated that the Tax Ministry's offer to repay the debt would be contested by the Bashkir oil refineries in court. If the ministry wins the suit but the refineries refuse to pay, the Tax Ministry will be able to begin bankruptcy procedures.

The 17 July issue of "Kommersant" said that "the struggle between the Tax Ministry and Bashkir authorities reached its peak," as Ufa authorities cut off electricity to the local Tax Ministry's office and the ministry raised the issue of unpaid taxes owed by Bashkir oil refineries.

Government Unsatisfied With Low Housing Figures
A meeting of the Bashkir government's presidium chaired by Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov on 17 July acknowledged the unsatisfactory pace of housing development in the republic, AROMI reported the same day. Baydavletov cited the falling number of new housing construction both in urban and rural areas.

Baydavletov also criticized the high housing prices in the republic and demanded that construction companies reduce their production expenses by using modern technologies and "using other price-reducing resources."

According to Bashkortostan's State Statistics Committee, the average price of an apartment across the republic is 8,500 rubles ($270) per thousand square meters, while in Ufa it varies from 11,500 rubles to 19,000 rubles ($380-$625), RosBalt reported on 17 July.

In the first half of 2003, Bashkortostan's construction companies finished only one third of the 1.5 million square meters of planned housing.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi