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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 15, 2003

15 August 2003
Shaimiev Appoints New Chally Mayor...
Bashkir President Mintimer Shaimiev signed on 14 August a decree appointing Ildar Khalikov, 35, KamAZ's deputy general director in charge of corporate strategy and development, as the new mayor of Chally, Tatar agencies reported the same day. The post fell vacant on 3 August when Mayor Reshit Khemediev died of a heart attack. Shaimiev introduced the new mayor at an extraordinary session of the Chally Council of People's Deputies. Shaimiev said he was guided in his decision by Khalikov's previous experience and his contribution to restructuring KamAZ's debt to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. From 1998-2003, Khalikov was KamAZ's deputy general director in charge of finance. Speaking at the session, Khalikov said he considers a major goal to be raising the quality of life for Chally's residents, adding that house construction will be a main priority of the social development. There are reportedly 25,000 Chally residents seeking improved housing. The session elected Gennadii Filatov, 62, who was the deputy chairman of the Chally Council of People's Deputies, as the council's new chairman. Filatov said that the event is a "historical" one as the branches of power have been separated in Chally for the first time. Previously, the mayor of Chally also headed the council.

...And Meets With Teachers
Speaking to the gathering of republic's teachers in Chally on 14 August, President Shaimiev said 1,100 secondary schools will be connected to the Internet by 2005 under the Tatar presidential five-year program of information development, while by 2006, all schools in the republic will have an Internet connection. He said the republic is to increase its usage of computers from its current level of one per 36 persons to the world level of one per 10-12 people. Shaimiev further said that teacher salaries are "impermissibly low," totaling 80 percent of the average wage in the industrial sector, despite a 30 percent increase to be made in the fall. He also outlined the republican program of mortgage housing construction under which teachers and state employees will be allowed 20-year credits at an annual rate of 8 percent. Some 10,000 teachers are waiting to purchase apartments in Tatarstan.

Trade Minister Discusses Visit To Uzbekistan...
Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khefiz Salikhov told a briefing in the Cabinet of Ministers on 14 August that the Kazan Helicopter Plant is assembling a helicopter for Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Salikhov was discussing the results of a visit by a Tatar delegation headed by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov to Uzbekistan. Salikhov said the sides agreed to continue negotiations between the Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant and Uzbek Airlines on the leasing of Tatarstan-produced Tu-214 jets. Salikhov said a preliminary agreement was reached on the delivery of at least 300 KamAZ vehicles a year to Uzbekistan, where currently some 40,000 KamAZ trucks are used, and on the establishment of KamAZ service centers there. Salikhov also said that the demand for $10 million worth of KamAZ spare parts exists in Uzbekistan. He added that corresponding contracts are to be signed. In September, a Tatar delegation is to visit Tashkent to discuss Tatarstan's participation in road construction in Uzbekistan. Deliveries of tires produced by Nizhnekamskshina will also be revived in the near future. The two sides also agreed to, among other things, arrange tours of Tatar theater and music groups, transmit Tatar satellite television channel Tatarstan-New Century in Uzbekistan, where more than 400,000 Tatars live.

...As Communications Minister Calls For Reduced Mobile Phone Rates
"Kommersant" on 14 August cited Communications Minister Rinat Jelelov as saying that the share of cellular communication providers' income, which totaled 3 billion rubles ($98,000,000) in the first six months of the year, makes up about 33 percent of the ministry's entire income, down from 39 percent last year. Jelelov said this shows that the "formation of a market of mobile communication services has ended in the republic and the optimization of rates has taken place as a result of the competition." He added, however, that the services of cell phone providers are too expensive and unreasonable, and called on those companies to revise their tariffs. The daily also reported that all cellular communication providers in the republic have concluded agreements on internetwork cooperation and thus have resolved a scandal that followed the arrival of Russian companies to the Tatar market.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Putin Discusses Joining Islamic Conference With Ambassador
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed on 14 August Russia's intention to enter the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), reported the same day. He said "the almost 20 million Muslims living in Russia have full right to feel a part of the Muslim world." Putin discussed the prospects of Russia joining the conference with Veniamin Popov, Russia's envoy to the OIC and other international Islamic organizations. Putin said that at first Russia intends to enter the OIC as an observer. "There should not by any haste," he added. He also said that Russia is ready to meet the financial obligations required for OIC entry.

Leader Of SPS In Bashkortostan Promotes Merger With Yabloko
The merger of Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) is inevitable, Vyacheslav Gyilajetdinov, the leader of the SPS in Bashkortostan told RosBalt on 14 August. He said that a merger of two rightist parties would be well-timed now as there "are not many differences between the ideology, programs, and aims of the SPS and Yabloko, and compromise could be reached on each of them." Gyilajetdinov said that people "in the regions realized the necessity of the merger a long time ago" and added that the merger should not be done through absorption but through the establishment of a new party or bloc. According to Gyilajetdinov, election analysts have predicted that rightist, leftist, and centrist blocs will form before the elections. In Bashkortostan, there are some 450 SPS members and around 1,600 Yabloko members.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova