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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 22, 2003

22 October 2003
Regional Officials Discuss Housing Development Concept
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and former St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev chaired a meeting of regional housing officials from central and southern Russia in Kazan on 21 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. During the conference, dedicated to the Russian Federation's housing development strategy, Yakovlev and Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev shared the opinion that state banks such as Sberbank should be more involved in mortgage loans in order to speed up the construction of new housing. In 2004, 49,000 families in Kazan will get free apartments from the state. Shaimiev said that in the future Tatarstan will switch to a program offering mortgages.

State Employees Remain Among The Lowest-Paid Workers
Tatar Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Shishkin told a press conference on 21 October that in October some 450,000 state employees will earn an average salary of 3,300 rubles ($110), 43 percent lower than an average industrial worker, Intertat reported the same day. Tatarstan's Trade Unions Federation has insisted on a 33 percent pay rise for state employees. Federation chairwoman Tatyana Vodopyanova said during the same briefing that the republic's 2004 budget stipulates a 16 percent salary rise for state employees.

Gazprom Delegation Discusses New Projects With KamAZ
Suren Bagdasarov, head of the automotive transport department within Russia's Gazprom monopoly, visited KamAZ automotive concern on 21 October to meet with its team of developers, Kama-press reported the same day. During the three-day visit, Gazprom's representatives will discuss the further purchases of KamAZ special-utility trucks. Gazprom is preparing a large-scale overhaul of its transport fleet.

Energy Tariffs To Increase Some 20 Percent In January 2004
Reuf Zamaletdinov, chairman of Tatarstan's Energy Commission, told reporters on 21 October that from 1 January 2004 heating and electricity utilities for state concerns will rise by 20 percent, the "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily wrote the next day. Individual consumers will have to pay 16 percent more, while the tariff hike for industrial and commercial enterprises is to be discussed by the Federal Energy Commission in November.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Public Body Set Up To Monitor Presidential Elections
A public council has been established in Ufa to monitor the 7 December Bashkir presidential elections, "Kommersant" reported on 21 October. The council was set up by representatives of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov's major rivals in the campaign, former LUKoil Vice President Relif Safin and former Mezhprombank board Chairman Sergei Veremeenko. The council also brings together representatives of local branches of political parties in the republic. Among the five co-chairs of the council, there are representatives of Safin, Veremeenko, and other candidates, Reshit Islamov and Roman Narbutov.

The daily cited local observers as saying that the council could preclude the appearance of an united opposition candidate in case a second round of the election is held. Islamov and Narbutov told the daily that opposition candidates plan to send their observers to the republic's 3,500 polling stations. They added that the Russian Fund for Free Elections has launched courses in Ufa to train activists how to act in different electoral situations.

Meanwhile, Veremeenko told "Kommersant-Daily" that the heads of city and raion administrations had ordered local post office employees to remove from residents' mailboxes all campaign literature with the exception of those that supported the incumbent president.

Presidential Candidate Beaten, Threatened By Local Authorities
Khesen Idiatullin, a Bashkir presidential candidate and farmer in the Iglin Raion, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 21 October that he was beaten on 17 October by a head of a local village. Idiatullin said the administration head assaulted him as he was going to take a picture of two tractors destroying equipment on his farm. The drivers of the tractors told Idiatullin that they had received orders to do so by the head of the village administration. Idiatullin reportedly said Sibaev stroked his face and said, "I will crush you. I have received an order from the raion administration head to crush you. The prosecutor and our president will defend me, and you won't be able to do anything." Idiatullin has appealed to the republic's Prosecutor Florid Baikov to investigate the incident.

Twenty People Seek Registration As Presidential Candidates
Twenty candidates have so far informed the Bashkir Central Election Commission of their intention to join the presidential race, RosBalt reported the same day. Two of the candidates, State Duma Deputy Aleksandr Novikov (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) and Communist Party member Resul Shugurov were put forward by political parties. The registration procedure will continue until 2 November. To be registered, candidates must present to the election commission 60,000 signatures or pay 9.75 million rubles ($324,000).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova