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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 9, 2003

9 October 2003
Kazan City Government Sues Tatar Public Center
Tatarstan's Arbitration Court on 6 October held preliminary hearings on Kazan city's Communal Property Management Committee's lawsuit against the moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TIU)," the daily "Kommersant" reported on 8 October. The committee is demanding 120,000 rubles ($3,950) it says TIU owes in back rent for its office in Kazan's municipal building. TIU Chairman Reshit Yegeferov testified that the lawsuit is justifiable but said his nonprofit organization was unable to pay the rent because the donations it depends on dried up. However, he said TIU would pay the debt within weeks.

Aside from individual donors, TIU's leadership reportedly sought help from Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers and Kazan's administration, but did not succeed. The committee's lawsuit states that TIU should pay the debt and vacate the premises, which is located in the city center.

The Arbitration Court will investigate whether TIU manages to pay the debt by 24 October. TIU reportedly pays approximately $500 per month for rent.

Interior Ministry Reports Slight Drop In Crime Rate
Tatarstan's crime rate fell 2.8 percent in January-September compared to the same period in 2002, Interior Minister Esget Seferov told a press conference on 8 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Seferov said more than 43,300 crimes were registered. Approximately 62.2 percent of the crimes were solved, which represents a 3.9 percent drop compared to last year.

Commenting on the recent arrest of the "Tagiryanovskie" criminal group, which is accused of kidnapping local businessmen in Chally, Seferov said credit should go to both Interior Ministry officers and investigators from the republican Prosecutor's Office (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 September 2003). He also said that there is "no doubt" that " some Interior Ministry officers assisted the detained criminal group" and that some top police officers will likely lose their jobs following an investigation. Thirty-one members of the criminal group were detained and eight others were prohibited from leaving Chally. Nine others remain on the federal most-wanted list.

$60 Million Loan Granted For Refinery
Russia's Sberbank has granted a $60 million loan to the Tatar-American Investments and Finance (TAIF) group to build a refinery to produce gasoline and other oil products, Intertat reported on 8 October. The seven-year loan will enable Tatarstan to refine 530,000 tons of its own petroleum a year by late 2005. The oil-rich republic is currently a fuel importer.

New HIV Cases Fall In Tatarstan
Kazan's Health Board has announced that 650 new cases of HIV have been registered in Tatarstan in the first nine months of 2003, half the number registered over the same period in 2002, Intertat reported on 8 October. Board officials credited a new sterile-needle campaign for the lower number of new cases among drug addicts and said most new cases of the disease are being contracted through sexual activity. More than 6,000 people are registered as HIV-positive in Tatarstan, most of them in the regions of Bogelme, Elmet, Leninogorsk, and Kama Tamagi.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Veremeenko Notifies Election Commission Of Entry In Race
Former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko has informed the Bashkir Central Election Commission of his intention to enter the Bashkir presidential race, Interfax reported on 8 October. Veremeenko, considered to be the strongest rival of incumbent President Murtaza Rakhimov, told reporters the same day: "I realize what difficulties and obstacles will be created in order to save the incumbent president of the republic from true rivals. But there are enough qualified lawyers in my team to prevent violations of the law and to prevent similar facts in competitors' campaigns." Veremeenko expressed his hope that the electoral struggle will not be reduced to attempts to promise as much as possible but will become a competition of precise plans and productive ideas on the improvement of voters' lives. Veremeenko has said that he plans to campaign using his own money.

Bashkir Prime Minister Meets With Trade Unions
Meeting on 8 October with Bashkir Trade Union Federation Chairman Emirkhan Semirkhanov and leaders of republican trade-union committees of budget-sector employees, Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov said that low wages in the budget sector are the most urgent issue for the entire country, Bashinform reported the same day. Bashkortostan's economy easily allows for implementing the Russian presidential decree for a 33 percent wage increase for budget-sector employees. Baidavletov added that this measure is not enough to resolve the issue, saying the Bashkir president has issued a decree on payment this month of a 500-ruble ($16) cash bonus for all budget-sector employees.

Semirkhanov said the meeting was devoted to the planned nationwide trade-union demonstration, adding that given the partnership between the republic's trade unions and the government, Bashkir trade unions had decided not to stage demonstrations but to pass their demand to increase wages for teachers and doctors to State Duma deputies from the republic.

Assembly Speaker On Importance Of Bashkir Declaration Of Sovereignty
In an interview with Bashinform on 6 October devoted to the 13th anniversary of the "Declaration of Bashkortostan's State Sovereignty," State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev said the adoption of the document in 1990 helped preserve Russia's integrity. He said the declaration has determined Bashkortostan's development for many decades in the future and contributed to the establishment of the republic's statehood, good economic performance, strong social policy, and civic and interethnic stability in Bashkortostan.

Tolkachev claimed that statehood for Russia's republics does not harm the integrity and state sovereignty of the country as a whole. He added that while adopting the amended constitution, the republic had to reject the "sovereignty" concept under Moscow pressure and replace it with the "statehood" concept, but he said that the essence of the issue did not change since the republics maintain plenty of power outside the exclusive powers of the Russian Federation. Tolkachev called for the refusal of joint powers of the federation and its entities, saying in reality entities are debarred from resolving those issues.

He said harmonization of legislation should be "two-way traffic," adding that the numerous legal collisions between Moscow and federation entities reflect the shortcomings of the Russian Constitution, which does not specify the powers of federation entities of different statuses. He emphasized that federal laws infringe on powers of federation entities while neither prosecutors nor judges protect the legislation of federation subjects.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova