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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 3, 2003

3 October 2003
Parliamentary Commission Considers Draft 2004 Budget
On 2 October, the State Council Commission on Science, Education, Culture, and National Issues discussed Tatarstan's draft 2004 budget, reported the same day. Finance Minister Radik Gaizetullin told the meeting that budget revenues are expected to total 40.7 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) while expenses will amount to 43.4 billion rubles. Changing federal tax legislation will result in a loss of some 3 billion rubles, Gaizetullin said, adding that 1.8 billion of that sum will be covered by other tax revenues, but the remainder will remain uncovered. Of the budget, 775 million rubles is earmarked for education, 527.2 million rubles for culture and art, and 329.5 million rubles for mass media, Gaizetullin said.

The draft estimates inflation to be 10.4 percent, gas tariffs to grow by 22 percent, and heating tarifs by 20 percent. The export oil price is supposed to total $20 per barrel and gross regional product will amount to 282 billion rubles, a 4.1 percent increase compared to 2003. Industrial production will amount to 246 billion rubles, 4.1 percent up from the 2003 rate. According to the draft budget, incomes are expected to rise by 9 percent.

Census Results On Tatarstan's Ethnic Makeup
"Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 2 October unofficial data from the October 2002 census, which says that Tatars make up 53 percent of the republic's population, up from the previous 48 percent in the last census. The ethnic-Russian portion of the population dropped by 4 percent to 39 percent. The growth in the Tatar population was explained by the fact that many children born in ethnically mixed families are registered as Tatars. The number of Kreshens (Christian Tatars) amounted to between 11,000 and 13,000 people, not 100,000 as had been predicted by forces in Moscow that have promoted the separation of Kreshens from Tatars, the weekly said.

More Details Emerge In KamAZ Kidnapping Case
The kidnapped KamAZ executives, whose bodies were found earlier this week, transferred a large amount of money before being murdered, reported on 2 October, citing the Chally "AvtoCity" newspaper. According to the paper, KamAZ head Viktor Faber and KamAZ Metallurgy Plant Chief Accountant Natalya Starodubtseva left Chally for Kazan on 27 May by car and were stopped by men in police uniforms who then kidnapped them. Faber was forced to order that a large sum of money be transferred from KamAZ to Moscow's Sodbiznesbank. On 28 May, after the transfer was complete, Faber and Starodubtseva were shot and buried on a small island on the River Kama.

Under suspicion is a Chally organized crime group, headed by Eduard Tahirjanov. The report cited Chally Interior Directorate head Feizulla Khosniev as saying the group has been operating since the early 1990s and is responsible for countless crimes, including rapes, murders, and bombings. He said the group was protected by some employees of the Chally Komsomol Interior Department.

Tatarstan Produces Russia's Biggest Grain Harvest
Tatarstan's harvest has yielded 5.5 million tons of grain making the republic the biggest grain producer in Russia, Tatar-inform, reported on 2 October, citing the Tatar Agriculture and Foodstuffs Ministry.

Tatarstan Sends Humanitarian Aid To Altai Republic
After a destructive earthquake several days ago, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov agreed to send 500,000 rubles ($16,477) worth of humanitarian aid to the Altai Republic, Tatar-inform and reported on 2 October.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Seven Candidates Intend To Run For Bashkir President
Seven candidates have so far notified the republic's Central Election Commission (CEC) of their intention to run for Bashkir president, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 2 October. But none of them has submitted the necessary documents for obtaining the official registration. The most recent applications were received on 1 October from Belebey Tatar high-school principal Nurmokhemmet Khoseinov, who is known for his statements about violations of Tatar rights in Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2, 4, 6 September 2002) and Resul Shugurov, the currently unemployed former Russian State Duma deputy (Communist Party) from Bashkortostan. The list also includes former LUKoil Vice President and current Russian Federation Council member (from Altai Republic) Relif Safin; the leader of the opposition Equality movement, Aleksandr Arinin; Bashkortostan's Entrepreneurs Union Chairman Nikolai Shvetsov; Ufimskoe Ltd. Director Tamindar Galimov; and the owner of a horse-breeding farm in the Iglin region, Khasan Idiatullin. President Murtaza Rakhimov and the former top manager of Mezhprombank, Sergei Veremeenko, have thus far not notified the Election Commission of their intent to run, just as Federal Security Service colonel and member of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Part of Russia's faction in the Russian State Duma, Aleksandr Novikov.

Bashkirenergo To Cut On Its Investment Program
The joint-stock company Bashkirenergo is being forced to impose significant cuts on its investment program for 2004, the company's press service announced on 2 October. The cuts are reportedly due to a recent decision by the Federal Energy Commission to limit the possible annual increase of electricity and heat rates in the regions by 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively. According to Bashkirenergo representatives, the company planned to increase the rates by at least 22 percent, given that the current electricity and heating rates in the republic are 13 percent lower than Russia's average. The Bashkir energy company's one-billion ruble ($32.6 million) investment program for 2003 focused on the renovation of its equipment, the construction of new power plants, and recreational facilities for its employees and their families.

Moscow Launches Forced Debt Repayment Procedure Against Bashkir Industries
According to "Kommersant" on 2 October, the Russian Tax Ministry has launched a procedure to force the repayment of 12 billion rubles ($390 million) in taxes that are owed by Bashkir oil refineries. In 2001-02, the republic's petrochemical industries registered their facilities in the Baikanor off-shore zone in Kazakhstan, but the scheme was later uncovered by the Tax Ministry and in August 2003 it declared a 50-day deadline for the companies to voluntarily repay what they owed. "Kommersant" also sited a source in the Bashkir government as saying that Bashkir President Rakhimov ordered UralSib Bank to deal with the repayment, which is currently the subject of heated debate in the republic in light of December presidential elections in the republic.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi