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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 19, 2003

19 September 2003
KamAZ Covers 40 Percent Of Russia's Heavy Trucks Market
The KamAZ board of directors discussed on 17 September at its meeting in Moscow implementation of the 2003 business plan and company results in the first eight months of the year, the KamAZ press service reported on 18 September. KamAZ claims to have increased its share of the Russian heavy-truck market from 29 percent late 2002 to 40 percent. The company currently assembles one in two trucks with a capacity between 6 and 20 tons produced in Russia and the CIS.

Kazan, Moscow At Variance As Regards Candidates For Duma
Unified Russia's branch in Tatarstan sent 17 delegates to Moscow on 18 September to take part in the party's third congress set for 20 September, reported on 18 September. Among the delegates were Nurlat Raion administration head Fatykh Sibegetullin, Krasnyi Vostok brewery General Director Airat Kheirullin, Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Shamil Karatai, and Tatfondbank Chairman Rinat Gobeidullin. The party's Supreme Council co-chairman, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, and head of the party's Tatar branch, State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, will also attend the congress. Mukhametshin said the party branch has put together a campaign staff and nominated State Council Secretary Valentina Lipuzhina to head it.

Meanwhile, "Zvezda povolzhya" on 18 September reported on a disagreement between Moscow and Kazan in nominating candidates for the December State Duma election in Tatarstan. In the republic's Volga electoral district, Moscow supports the candidacy of State Duma Deputy Ivan Grachev, while Kazan promotes Krasnyi Vostok brewery General Director Kheirullin. The weekly cited an unnamed source as saying that Kheirullin donated $25 million to the election campaign of Unified Russia's Tatar branch.

Moscow Seeks Reduction Of Teaching Tatar, Closing Turkish-Tatar Lyceums
The Russian Education Ministry has ordered that the volume of teaching Tatar in Tatarstan's Russian-language secondary schools be halved from six to three hours a week, "Zvezda povolzhya" reported on 18 September. The ministry also wants the subject of Tatar literature dropped from the curriculum. The move evoked strong protests in the republic against the measure, which could result in the dismissal of 500 teachers across the republic. The Tatar Education Ministry canceled the order but Moscow is continuing to push revising school curricula to reduce the teaching of Tatar not only in Russian-language but in Tatar-language schools as well, the weekly said.

The paper also reported that Moscow is increasing pressure on Tatarstan to close Tatar-Turkish lyceums. Similar educational institutions were recently closed in Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 June 2003). The Russian Federal Security Service reportedly refused visas to directors of Tatar-Turkish lyceums after their summer vacations and they were permitted to enter Russia only after they agreed to resign from their positions. A group of Tatar scholars and academicians has appealed to President Shaimiev to protest the ill-treatment of those educational institutions and plans to appeal to President Vladimir Putin on the issue, the paper said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Branch Of Unified Russia, State Media Boycott Independent Body For Free Election Monitoring
The public council of the Ufa branch of the Russian Fund for Free Elections had its first meeting on 18 September, RosBalt reported the same day. The meeting was attended by the representatives of the local branches of major political parties, Bashkir Central Election Commission officials, the Volga Federal District Media Ministry branch, and local correspondents of nationwide media. The meeting agreed on holding weekly meetings to discuss the pace of December 2003 Russian Duma and the republic's presidential elections in Bashkortostan and analyzing the reports of elections-law violations.

The council was established in June to consolidate the political forces interested in fair and transparent elections in Bashkortostan. This organization is being boycotted by the Bashkir branch of Unified Russia and the correspondents of state-owned Bashkir media.

Bashkir Communist Leader Opposes Move Of Local Council Elections To December
The Bashkir State Assembly on 17 September voted to set the date for elections to Bashkortostan's local self-government councils together with the federal presidential elections in March 2004, and "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. Russian State Duma Deputy representing Bashkortostan and head of the Communist Party in the republic Valentin Nikitin told the website and the daily that this decision represented "a direct violation of Bashkortostan's Constitution adopted in 2002, which says that elections for local councils are to be held together with the elections for the Bashkir State Assembly."

Bashkortostan already elected its State Assembly in March, but in December 2002 the Bashkir parliament adopted a law on extending the term of local self-government councils, so that the elections of city and regional councils were moved to December 2003, despite the republican constitution, Nikitin said.

Daily Weights Up Potential Of Rakhimov's Rivals In Presidential Race
Relif Safin, former LUKoil vice president and current Altai Republic representative in the Federation Council, is currently getting very high poll rating in Bashkortostan, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" wrote on 18 September. According to the paper, Safin, an ethnic Tatar born in Bashkortostan, promotes President Murtaza Rakhimov's voluntary retirement, though acknowledging that one can't seriously expect such hopes to come true.

The daily also notes that another serious candidate "could be the co-owner of Mezhprombank and adviser to the chairman of Unified Russia's executive board Sergei Veremeenko," although he has not revealed his final decision on whether to seek the Bashkir presidency.

Moscow's Center for Political Technologies Director Boris Makarenko told the paper that Safin and Veremeenko could join forces against Rakhimov, "as for Relif Safin the elections are his personal political project," while Veremeenko's actions are motivated by the interests of major Russian businesses.

Rakhimov Meets Head Of Federal Land Register Service
President Rakhimov and federal Land Registry Service head Sergei Sai met on 18 September and signed an agreement on handing over the republic's powers for managing land resources to the service, RosBalt reported. During the signing ceremony Rakhimov said that in the last five years Bashkortostan has managed to register and assess the value of all of its arable land. Sai acknowledged that Bashkortostan "has one of the best automated systems of state land registry in Russia."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi