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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 30, 2003

30 October 2003
Controversial Census Results Published
"Rossiiskaya gazeta" published on 29 October results of the October 2002 Russia-wide census, according to which the number of Tatars grew by 14,700 to 5.6 million compared to data from the 1989 census. Previous reports speculated that the Tatar population had grown by 150,000-160,000. The only region where the number of Tatars was reported to fall was Bashkortostan. Meanwhile, according to the census data, the overall number of Bashkirs in the Russian Federation increased by 330,000 to 1.678 million.

KamAZ Revises Projected Profits
The KamAZ board of directors lowered its profit projection for 2003 from 112 million rubles ($3.7 million) to 92 million rubles, RosBalt reported the same day. The move came in the wake of rising prices of Russian raw materials and the Russian government's incorrect prognosis of currency-exchange rates. As a result, the production costs of ferrous and non-ferrous metals have increased this current year by 24 percent and 12 percent, respectively, in place of the predicted 7.8 percent.

Bashkir Oil Company Fined For Environmental Violations In Tatarstan
The Chief Natural Resources Directorate in Tatarstan has ordered the Bashkir oil company Tuimazaneft to pay a 40,000 rubles ($1,333) fine for working without a federal license and violating environmental laws, and RosBalt reported on 29 October, citing the directorate's press service. Tuimazaneft is developing the Tuimazy oil deposit, the western part of which is located on the territory of Tatarstan. The oil company has failed to destroy 368 wells that are potentially damaging to the environment.

Fifty Percent Of Small Businesses Work In The Shadows
About 800 people, including some 500 delegates from the republic's municipalities and raions, took part in a congress of entrepreneurs held in Chally on 28 October, Tatar-inform reported the same day. It was reported at the forum that small and medium-sized businesses employ 30 percent of the working population and make up 10 percent of the state revenue. However, only half of the 600,000 people employed in small businesses are officially registered. Some 56 percent of small businesses are located in Kazan.

TIU Leaders Run For Duma On True Patriots Of Russia Party List
Representatives of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) have been registered as candidates for the State Duma on the True Patriots of Russia party list, Tatar-inform reported on 29 October. A moderate nationalist organization, the TIU is represented by chairman Reshit Jegeferov, deputy chairman Ildus Sadyiqov, and presidium member Gayal Mortazin. Under the electoral legislation, TIU is not permitted to field candidates for the Duma.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Public Body Points At Violated Election Regulations In Bashkortostan...
The public council of the Ufa office of the Russian Fund for Free Elections on 29 October appealed to Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, and fund Chairman Andrei Przhezdomskii, citing "flagrant violations in preparations for the December elections for Russia's State Duma and the republic's president" in Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. According to the document, republican authorities abused their "administrative resources on an unprecedented scale.... City and regional administration heads and top officials of state enterprises and organizations are campaigning in favor of the government-proposed candidates, using pressure and intimidating their employees."

The council also complained that "rectors of higher education institutions and hospital and school principals were instructed to promote the government's candidates and local election commissions are preparing extra voting ballots" to stuff the ballot boxes. Meanwhile the election commissions have allegedly expelled opposition representatives and the media and prevented their work. The public council was established this September, and includes representatives of the Communist Party, Yabloko, Liberal Democratic Party, Union of Rightist Forces, Party of Life, and the People's Party.

...And Warns Officials Against Manipulations During Vote
The same council issued a special address to the heads of Bashkortostan's city and regional administrations and chairmen and representatives of the election commission on 29 October, urging respect for the election-related regulations in the 7 December elections for the State Duma and Bashkir presidency.

The officials were asked "to resist the temptation to influence the outcome of the vote by administrative pressure and avoid trying to influence the constitutional rights of each person to elect freely and independently." Those responsible for the conduct of elections in Bashkortostan were also warned about the possible sanctions by the federal government in case of violations.

Muslim Board Opposes Tax Code Amendments
If effectively adopted, the new amendments to the Russian Tax Code's provision on property tax will compromise the activities of religious organizations, a spokesperson for Ufa's Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims (TsDUM) told RosBalt on 29 October. The amendments currently under discussion by the State Duma enforce the property tax on all religious organizations, representing "a major blow to their activities and disabling their charity, social, and educational activities." TsDUM appealed to Russia's president and parliament asking that the property-tax exemptions for religious institutions be continued, and expressing doubt that the federal government "will manage to solve the budget problem by taxing religious organizations."

First Female Candidate Sees 'No Chance' In Presidential Elections
Rimma Vodenko, who represents Bashkortostan's Foreign Economic Affairs and Trade Ministry in Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug, became the first woman to apply for registration as a presidential candidate in her home republic, reported on 29 October. According to the website, she believes that she has no chance of winning the elections, "since election results are predefined and Bashkortostan's political system has not changed in the last 20 years." Vodenko complained that local authorities have prevented her from meeting with the electorate and female members of the Bashkir parliament.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi