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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 29, 2003

29 August 2003
Moscow Researcher Says Unified Russia Maintains Unrivaled Ratings In Tatarstan
Dmitrii Olshanskii, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Analysis and Prognosis, told a press conference on 27 August that the top five most popular political parties in Tatarstan were Unified Russia, the Communist Party, the Union of Rightist Forces, Yabloko, and the People's Party. Behind them in the popularity stakes are the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, the Agrarian Party, the Russian United Industrial Party, and the Pensioners' Party. Olshanskii emphasized that Unified Russia remained the most popular party in the republic. The Communists, he said, suffer from poor media coverage, lacking financial resources, and an uncreative leadership. Olshanskii said that the upcoming December elections for the Russian State Duma will not be a crucial turning point in the country's political life. According to Olshanskii, Unified Russia, which is expected to gain an overwhelming victory, will take on "the important mission of putting an end to revolution in the country." He also said that the party's leader, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, could soon be replaced with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev or Tuva Oblast Governor Aman Tuleev.

Shaimiev Outlines Tatarstan's Major Achievements For Foreign, Russian Reporters
President Mintimer Shaimiev told a delegation of foreign and Russian reporters visiting Tatarstan on 28 August that he considers free speech and individual freedoms to be the major achievements in more than a decade of reforms, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 August 2003). Shaimiev emphasized that his government follows all the changes taking place in the country, "but we have always been doing everything our own way." He said that Tatarstan's model of economic development had allowed the maintenance of a number of social-security programs, such as free apartments for more than 40,000 families who lived in run-down housing.

Large Delegation Of Foreign Diplomats To Join Republic's Day Of Celebrations
Thirty-one ambassadors to Russia from around the world arrived in Kazan with their families on 29 August to join the celebrations for the 13th anniversary of Tatarstan's Sovereignty Declaration, which is annually marked as the Republic Day, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Timur Akulov, an advisor to the Tatar president on international affairs, told reporters on 28 August that this is the largest diplomatic delegation in Tatarstan's history and the history of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Russia's Oil Industries Get New Tax Inspector
Russian Tax Minister Gennadii Bukaev on 27 August appointed Andrei Fedotov as head of the department responsible for taxes paid by major oil companies, the "Kommersant" daily wrote the next day. Bukaev was the former head of the ministry's department responsible for taxes paid by major transportation companies. The daily suggested that this appointment came as a reward for Fedotov's three-month long mission in Bashkortostan. He is said to have "reestablished the tax vertical" after the Tax Ministry's branch in Bashkortostan refused to force the repayment of some $400 million in taxes owed by Bashkir oil refineries, which attempted to evade taxes by registering their facilities in the Baykonur offshore zone in Kazakhstan.

Fire Damages Printing Shop Used By Opposition Press
Unidentified arsonists set alight a printing workshop in Zlatoust, Chelyuabinsk Oblast, which has been printing opposition newspapers banned in neighboring Bashkortostan, the "Rossiiskie Vesti" daily wrote on 28 August. The fire reportedly destroyed two new printing machines installed the day before the arson.

LDPR's Mitrofanov Still Uncertain About Running For President
Russian State Duma deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov (ultra-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia), who is currently visiting Bashkortostan, told reporters on 28 August that Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov "should be inspired by the example of Boris Yeltsin, who voluntarily applied for retirement in December 1999," Rosbalt reported the same day. He said that during his meetings with Bashkortostan's residents he had heard such suggestions "many times." Mitrofanov confirmed his plans to run for the Bashkir presidency in December, although he also said that his party could put him forward for the seat of Moscow mayor.

Yabloko To Support Arinin For Bashkir Presidency
Sergei Mitrokhin, a Yabloko deputy in the Russian State Duma, said that the Moscow-based political council of the Yabloko party is ready to support the opposition candidate Aleksandr Arinin for the Bashkir presidential race, Rosbalt reported on 28 August. Mitrokhin noted that Yabloko's branch in Bashkortostan is in opposition to the republican government and is not planning to seek the support of the authorities.

Emergencies Minister Says Half Of Republic's Schools Not Protected Against Fires
Bashkir Emergencies Minister Marat Magadeev told a governmental meeting on 28 August that some 50 percent of the republic's schools do not have sufficient fire-safety protection, Bashkir State Radio reported the same day. According to the minister, the republic's schools have not taken appropriate measures after the tragic school fires in Yakutiya and Daghestan this year.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi