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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 19, 2003

19 August 2003
New Tatar Constitution To Be Amended For Parliamentary Elections
The 3 September session of Tatarstan's parliament will seek to revise the new republican constitution, which was approved in April 2002, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 19 August. According to the daily, the Tatar government decided to increase the number of deputies in parliament. The decision is said to be motivated by the experience of neighboring Samara Oblast, where the number of deputies had been reduced, thus increasing the political status of each deputy. "Vechernyaya Kazan" wrote: "The harder it is to get into the regional parliament, the more demanding deputies become. In Samara the deputies' demands have led to constant conflicts between the Legislative Assembly and the governor. As a result, it brought some balance between the legislative and executive branches, that is, the reduction of the governor's authority."

The September parliamentary session is also expected to confirm the unicameral form of the Tatar State Council, rejecting the bicameral variant. "It is a surprise," "Vechernyaya Kazan" wrote, "because the formation of the upper chamber from representatives of the [republic's] regions would guarantee the political domination of the titular [Tatar] nationality in the republican parliament."

Tatarstan's State Council, which will have elections on the same day as Russian presidential elections in March 2004, currently has 130 deputies.

New Chally Mayor Pledges 'Corporate' Approach To Governing City
Ildar Khalikov, the newly appointed mayor of Tatarstan's second city, Chally, told reporters on 18 August that in his work he would implement the principles learned during his work at the KamAZ auto maker, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 19 August. The former deputy general director in charge of KamAZ's corporate strategy and development said that his main principles were the equal comprehension of tasks by the city mayor and his subordinates, strict discipline among officials, and transparency in the city administration's work. He added that it is important that the residents are well-informed about the mayor's activities and that the information is delivered directly from the mayor or his deputies. Khalikov added that the media "should provide unbiased coverage" of the city government's policies.

MTZ Agrees To Withhold The Price Of Tractors Assembled In Tatarstan
Representatives of Tatarstan's YelAZ automotive works and the Minsk Tractor Plant's (MTZ) sales branch in Alabuga met with MTZ's top managers in Belarus to insist on keeping the price of "Belarus" tractors assembled in Tatarstan stable by keeping the cost of parts unchanged, Al-inform reported on 18 August. MTZ had announced that it would increase the price of parts once per quarter, but during the meeting in Minsk it was agreed that the prices will not be raised. The joint venture of MTZ and YelAZ in Alabuga plans to assemble 1,000 tractors in 2003 and 2,500 in 2004

Tatar Chicken Producers Plan To Oust U.S. And Brazilian Importers
Tatarstan's chicken producers increased production by as much as 30 percent in 2003 so that the total output reached 35,000 tons, Tatarinform reported on 18 August. The local chicken factories reportedly plan to put some 50,000 tons on the market by 2005. In this case Tatarstan will no longer need the imports of U.S. and Brazilian chicken, the agency concluded, citing unnamed experts in the republic-owned Tatptitseprom.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Communists Pledge To Oppose Administrative Pressure During December Vote...
Valentin Nikitin (Communist), the Russian State Duma deputy representing Bashkortostan, said at a press conference in Ufa on 18 August that his party would seek to enter its observers in all electoral districts to ensure fair elections in the republic's presidential and State Duma vote in December, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported today According to Nikitin, the only obstacle to fair elections in Bashkortostan is pressure from the republican authorities. He said that during the March elections for the republic's parliament, the votes of Bashkortostan's residents "were either falsified or stolen." Nikitin noted that the Communists expect to win some 30 percent of the vote in the Duma elections in Bashkortostan and still have not decided whether to propose a candidate for the presidency.

...And Seek To Reverse Privatization In Bashkortostan
During the same press conference Nikitin said that privatization in Bashkortostan might be reversed if federal controlling bodies find that there were violations during the original process, Rosbalt reported on 18 August. He said that the Russian prosecutor-general will soon evaluate the reports of the Russian Audit Chamber, which claimed that there were infringements in the privatization of the republic's petrochemical industries. On 30 July, Nikitin appealed to the Russian prosecutor-general asking him to check the legality of the Bashneft oil company transferring its controlling shares to private owners. He also hinted at violations committed in 1995 when Bashneft was transformed into a joint-stock venture.

Housing Service Companies Report First Profits
One-third of Bashkortostan's residents receive state subsidies for housing, Rosbalt reported on 17 August, citing the republic's Housing Ministry. The republican budget allotted 530 million rubles ($11.5 million) for this purposes during the first half of 2003. Currently, the majority of citizens are officially paying 80 percent of their housing costs; in some cities such as Uchali or the Mechetle region consumers are already required to cover all of their housing costs. As a result, providers of housing have made a profit of 30 million rubles ($1 million) in the first half of 2003, Rosbalt reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi