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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 6, 2003

6 October 2003
First Duplicate Candidates Reported Among State Duma Candidates In Tatarstan
By the 4 October deadline, 70 candidates for the December State Duma elections had submitted their applications to Tatarstan's Central Election Commission, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 6 October. The candidates will be running for five seats in the lower chamber of the Russian Federal Assembly. In some voting districts, voters will have to choose from candidates with similar names, which may cause mistakes when filling out the ballots. For example, in the Elmet region, State Duma Deputy Fendes Safiullin, who is an ideologist of the Tatar national movement, is running against Khikmetulla Safiullin, a person with no political background and not representing any political party.

In Kazan's Privolzhskii District, Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin will face Vitalii Shashurin, an industrial worker unknown to the public. According to some media in Tatarstan, such situations may be attempts to distract and mislead voters by including "duplicate" candidates to the candidate lists, a technique known in Russian politics but still new in Tatarstan.

Tatarstan Seeks To Minimize Budget Expenditures
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told a cabinet meeting on 3 October that within the next two years Tatarstan will undertake a program for reforming budget expenditures, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. According to Minnikhanov, currently 70 percent of some 30 billion rubles ($1 billion) of the republic's budget is spent on social-security and cultural programs, while in some cases newly built hospitals and expensive medical equipment are not being used.

The program will reportedly involve rearrangements and a 20 percent cut in government employment, currently at 15,000 people.

The next two years will be the end of the special federal program for Tatarstan's economic development, under which in 2002 the republic received some 12 billion rubles ($392 million). Beginning this year, the subsidies were reduced by 1 billion rubles a year, so in 2003 Tatarstan received 10.1 billion ($330 million) and in 2004 it will get 9.1 billion ($297 million).

The mentioned reform was introduced to compensate for the republic's budget losses as a result of the redistribution of taxes between Kazan and Moscow under the new Russian Tax Code which took force from 2001.

Tatar River Fleet To Be Privatized
Tatarstan's Property Ministry on 4 October endorsed the privatization plan of the state-owned Tatflot river fleet, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 6 October. The republican government will keep only a 25 percent blocking shares package, while most of the shares will be offered to private investors.

The privatization plan also stipulates that Tatflot will retain most of its current property, while the company's hospital and the Kazan river port's pier will be transferred to the government's direct jurisdiction.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

LDPR Nominates Presidential Candidate
The Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia's (LDPR) Bashkir branch has nominated State Duma Property Committee Deputy Chairman and Federal Security Service Colonel Aleksandr Novikov as a candidate for the Bashkir presidency, RosBalt reported on 4 October. Speaking at a party conference the same day in Ufa, Novikov said the decision on his candidacy is not by chance, given that clannish, ethnic-based regimes have formed in republics and oblasts that have been governed by the same leaders for a long time. State management has become inefficient in those regions, including Bashkortostan, he said. Novikov specified his main goals as a presidential candidate as increasing the openness of information in the region, removing obstacles in the registration of businesses, and doubling the salaries of state-budget employees. Bashkortostan's population believes in the nice image broadcast by the official media while there are in fact a lot of problems in the republic, he added. Novikov, 52, served in the army, the State Security Committee, and the Federal Security Service from 1974 to 1994.

Rakhimov Receives Human Rights Award
The International Committee for the Defense of Human Rights has awarded President Murtaza Rakhimov the "Honor and Dignity" award, RosBalt reported on 3 October, citing the presidential press service. Committee Chairman Igor Danilov sent a letter to the presidential administration saying that the award marked Rakhimov's services "to the international community and personal contribution to the defense of human rights and strengthening international relations." The Kyiv-based committee has 42 offices around the world, including in Russia, Great Britain, Austria, the United States, and the Czech Republic, and in the International Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.

Minimum Salary Raised By One-Third
President Rakhimov on 3 October signed a decree increasing the minimum salary for state-budget employees by 33 percent to 600 rubles ($19.6) as of 1 October, RosBalt reported on 4 October.

Ufa Sends Humanitarian Aid To Altai Republic
The Bashkir government has allocated 1 million rubles in humanitarian aid to the Republic of Altai, where an earthquake caused 300 million rubles in damage on 27 September, RosBalt reported on 4 October.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova