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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 20, 2003

20 October 2003
Parliament Passes Republican Budget For 2004
Tatarstan's State Council on 17 October passed the republican budget for 2004 in the first reading, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. According to Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov, who presented the government's economic forecast for the next year, consumer-goods prices are expected to gain 10.4 percent, while gas and heating tariffs are expected to grow by 22 percent and 20 percent, respectively. The report said that gross regional product will grow by 4.1 percent compared to the current year. The republican economy will reportedly remain overwhelmingly oil dependent, as the cabinet expects the petrochemical and fuel industries to remain the locomotives of economic development. Finance Minister Radik Gyizatullin told the deputies in his report that under the current tax reform the 2004 republican budget will lose up to 3 billion rubles ($100 million) in annual revenues compared to this year, while the federal government intends to compensate for some 1.8 billion rubles ($60 million).

The governmental draft budget approved by the State Council plans to spend 43.4 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) while the expected budget gap is reported at 2.6 billion ($87 million).

St. Petersburg Tatars Oppose Monument To Famous Tatar Poet
Rinat Weliev, leader of the Tatar community in St. Petersburg, urged the city's Muslims to boycott the erection of a monument to Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay near the St. Petersburg cathedral mosque, reported on 17 October. The monument is sponsored by Tatarstan's trade office in Russia's second city and Tatarstan's government, and was initially planned to be on Kazanskaya Street, which was recently renamed ahead of St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary celebrations this summer.

The Tatar community leader stated that Islam forbids monuments and local Muslim communities led by Mufti Jafar Ponchaev have already rejected similar proposals.

Tatar PM Takes On Desert Challenge
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 20 October joined the international Desert Challenge race in the United Arab Emirates with the KamAZ team, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. During the five-day off-road challenge, motorcycles, special utility vehicles, and truck teams will have to cover 2,000 kilometers.

Tatarstan Airlines To Lease Kazan-Made Tu-214
Tatarstan Airlines intends to lease two Tu-214's assembled at the Kazan Aviation Plant (KAPO imeni Gorbunova) with the help of the federal Financial Leasing Company, Rosbalt reported on 18 October. By early November, KAPO plans to finish assembling the first aircraft and will hold a special presentation to be attended by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The new aircraft will be used in the recently introduced flight route from Nizhnii Novgorod to Beijing through Kazan, Krasnoyarsk, and Chita.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Airlines Caught In Tax Evasion Again
Bashkortostan's branch of the Tax Ministry ordered Bashkir Airlines to pay 82 million rubles ($2.7 million) in delayed taxes, RosBalt reported on 17 October. The company was being inspected for the second time since the September, when the ministry discovered nonpayment of 76 million rubles in taxes ($2.5 million).

Police Arrest Alleged Drug Lord
On 17 October Bashkortostan's police detained Zelmakh Islamov, who is allegedly the leader of the Chechen criminal group operating drug dealing in the republic, Bashinform and RosBalt reported the same day. Islamov was reportedly carrying more than 1.2 kilograms of heroin brought from Afghanistan.

Gazprom Expresses Interest In Acquiring Another Bashkir Firm
The Gazprom monopoly intends to take over the Kauchuk synthetic-rubber company in Sterletamaq in addition to the Salavatneteorgsintez chemical plant it already acquired, "Vedomosti" reported on 17 October. The daily noted that under an agreement between Gazprom and Bashkir government signed in late 2002, the Bashkir government will help Gazprom obtain state-owned stakes in Bashkir chemical companies. Kauchuk produces 33 percent of Russia's isoprene synthetic rubbers and 40 percent of polymeric synthetic rubbers.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi