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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 2, 2002

2 January 2002
President Cites Year-2001 Accomplishments
President Mintimer Shaimiev, in his New Year's address to the republic on 31 December, called 2001 a year of both joy and sadness. He cited high agricultural yields, the "computerization" of all the republic's schools, the first commercial flights of Kazan's Tu-214 aircraft, successes in the republic's ramshackle housing program, and advances in the Kama River bridge project as the republic's major achievements. He was more cautious on developments in legal harmonization procedures in Tatarstan, saying Kazan has "resumed constructive dialogue with federal authorities. As always, we will find enough will and wisdom to find common solutions."

Shaimiev admitted that, "There is a lot to be done in Russia and Tatarstan," but insisted his republic was optimistic. He said the 11 September tragedy in the United States showed that "the new millennium proved that not all of us know how to live in peace."

Prime Minister Sums Up The Past Year
Speaking at a press conference on 28 December, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov praised Tatarstan's economic development in 2001 and added that the republic remained one of the most-developed industrial regions in Russia. He said many local industries, aside from defense and agriculture, managed to restructure their debts. Minnikhanov said that after Tatarstan began operating within the unified federal tax system, it "[lost] some of its incomes, [while] some are compensated by transfers from the federal center."

Commenting on the situation in the world oil market, the prime minister praised OPEC's decision to reduce oil output by 1.5 million tons per day to bolster prices. One of Tatarstan's biggest budget contributors, oil company Tatneft, is preparing a five-year investment program, he added.

Speaker Says Parliament Not To Be Dissolved
In an interview with Tatar-inform agency on 28 December, State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin said the majority of issues considered by the republic's parliament in 2001 "dealt with legal harmonization." In challenges from the Prosecutor-General's Office, 31 of Tatarstan's laws were amended, 17 were abolished, and 34 more were acknowledged as in violation of federal legislation by the Russian Supreme Court. Mukhametshin added that the State Council failed to consider a new draft constitution "due to reasons which we cannot affect."

Responding to a question about the possible dissolution of parliament because of 56 members that are also senior officials in the executive branch, the speaker said that, "If any decision on early elections is made at all, it will be our decision, because the federal and republican constitutions only allow for the body to dissolve itself or...[via] Tatarstan's or Russian presidential decrees." He emphasized that Tatarstan's new constitution should be based on the 1994 power-sharing treaty between Kazan and Moscow, so that the republic preserves all its powers and legislative experience.

Republic Falls Just Short Of Conscription Goals
Tatarstan's military commissioner's office announced on 28 December that 97 percent of the planned number of recruits were enlisted in the fall of 2001. Some 10 percent of all males of conscription age are reportedly exempted from army service due to health reasons or for university studies. Thirteen cases of draft-dodging were considered by the republic's military court during the year.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

President Rakhimov Says Ethnic, Religious Relations Strong
In his New Year's address, Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov said that "today Bashkortostan is a modern democratic state within the Russian Federation, maintaining optimal relations with federal bodies." He asserted that "the inter-ethnic and inter-faith stability firmly took [hold] in Bashkortostan."

"Unfortunately," he added, "the past year involved tragedies on a global scale, linked to international terrorism, war, and natural disasters."

Concerning 2002, Rakhimov outlined the coming national census as "an event of enormous importance" that will be used for developing the scientific foundation of economic and social policy and a "positive development for Bashkortostan and Russia."

Kumertau Plant Presents New, State-Financed Helicopter
Bashkortostan's Kumertau Aviation Plant presented the latest model of its high-tech, multi-functional K-226-50 helicopter on 28 December. Earlier this year, the plant received a 75 million ruble ($2.5 million), three-year loan from the republican budget to finish construction of this six-passenger machine, which is propelled by two American-made Alison engines. The company hopes that in 2002, the helicopter passes certification flights and receives a license for serial production.

Bashkirenergo Manager Says Staffing A Major Problem
The chief engineer of Bashkirenergo, Azat Salikhov claimed on 27 December that his company has been working on ways to reduce energy costs, but faces staffing problems due to what he characterizes as low salaries. He noted that Bashkirenergo employees were previously among the highest-paid workers in Bashkortostan.

Collective Farms Slow To Repay Energy Debt...
Although collective farms in Bashkortostan have been repaying their debts to utility Bashkirenergo, the power and heat producer claims it is still owed over 1 billion rubles (over $30 million), Bashinform reported on 29 December. By the end of 2002, farms are expected to pay off some 200 million rubles ($6.7 million) of that debt, or roughly one-fifth.

...While Private Farms Increase Output
Bashkortostan's Agricultural Ministry reported on 29 December that private farms' output grew by 19 percent in the past decade, while the private sector's share in agriculture increased from 33 to 50 percent. Some 96 percent of potatoes, 80 percent of vegetables, 67 percent of meat, and 51 percent of milk produced in the republic is produced by private farms, the ministry said.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi