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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 16, 2003

16 October 2003
Speaker To Take Part In OIC Meeting
Tatarstan's State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin joined an official Russian delegation led by President Vladimir Putin that left for Malaysia on 15 October to attend the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Tatar news agencies reported the same day. The delegation also includes Presidents Murtaza Rakhimov of Bashkortostan, Valerii Kokov of Kabardino-Balkar Republic, and Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov of Chechnya.

Tatar Trade Unions Join Nationwide Protest
Some 2,000 teachers, doctors, cultural-sector workers, and students joined a nationwide trade union protest on 15 October near Gorkii Park in Kazan, reported the same day. The protesters backed the main demand of the protest organizers on the increase of salaries of public-sector employees by 50 percent as of January. Republican Education Workers Trade Union Chairman Yurii Prokhorov said at the demonstration that the average wage in industry is 5,800 rubles, twice that of public-sector employees. Tatar Trade Union Federation Chairwoman Tatyana Vodopyanova said a 33 percent increase in salaries in the public sector to start on 1 October will only cover inflation over the past two years.

Tulpar, Karat Airlines To Merge
Tulpar airline Chairman Azat Khekim told a press conference on 15 October that a merger of the Tulpar and Karat airlines will be completed by January. A joint meeting of the two companies' boards of directors discussed the issue the same day. An office of the new company called Karat Airline will be located in Moscow's Vnukovo airport, while one its main branches and the majority of the company's 22 airliners will be based in Kazan's international airport. It is scheduled to open branches in Rostov-na-Donu, Anapa, and Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug's Sovetskii and Beloyarskii. The company plans to make flights to Moscow, Nizhnii Novgorod, Russia's northern regions, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey, and China. The airline has reached an agreement on a merger with Sochi's Chernomoravia airline and is in similar negotiations with other companies. Khekim was elected the new board chairman of Karat Airline, while the previous chairman, Yurii Koverda, was appointed general director.

Tulpar is Tatarstan's second-largest airline. Established in 1992 as the first private airline in the republic, it has more than 20 Jak-40 and Jak-42 jets. Karat, a major air trafficker of Rosaviakosmos, uses Tu-154, Tu-134, Jak-42, Jak-40, and An-24 jets.

Kazan Delegation Visits China
A delegation headed by Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov arrived on 15 October in Hang Chjou, China, for a four-day visit, reported the same day. The visit's main aim is to sign agreements on partnership and cooperation between the two cities and on their becoming sister cities.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Joins Putin's Delegation On Asia Trip
The fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has included Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov in his delegation at the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting in Malaysia, "may be interpreted as a sign demonstrating Moscow's sympathies," "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" wrote on 14 October. A source within the Russian presidential staff told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent on 15 October that under the trip's protocol, Rakhimov would not be allowed on the same airplane as Putin and is unlikely to get an opportunity to meet with the Russian president.

Bashkir Trade Unions Abstain From Russia-Wide Protest
Bashkortostan's Trade Unions Federation has abstained from a nationwide protest on 15 October, where state employees are demanding a salary increase, Rosbalt reported the same day. The federation's representatives discussed the issue with Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov, Finance Minister Ayrat Geskerov, and Labor Minister Fidus Yamaltdinov on 8 October, and later appealed to the republic's deputies in the Russian State Duma asking them to promote a 50 percent wage increase for state employees in next year's federal budget.

Amount Of Loss-Making Republican Industries Goes Down
State-owned industries in Bashkortostan have totted up losses of 2.3 billion rubles ($78 million) so far in 2003, Prime Minister Baydvletov told a cabinet meeting on 15 October, Rosbalt reported. In 2003, loss-making industries in the republic made up 32.3 percent of the entire industrial sector, down from 37.6 percent in 2002.

Human Rights Weekly Opposes Construction Of Yumaguzin Reservoir
The "Vashe pravo. Gazeta o pravakh cheloveka" human rights weekly wrote on 15 October that after the construction of the Yumaguzin reservoir in the Bashkiriya national park, a number of rare species of plants and animals will be destroyed by floods. A recent Russian Ecology Ministry inspection decided that no environmental laws had been violated. In the future, the dam will be used for the Yumaguzin hydroelectric power plant. The weekly accused the inspections of deliberately ignoring the violations.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi