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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 4, 2002

4 January 2002
Tatarstan Lauded For Cooperation With UNESCO
A commission on UNESCO affairs at the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry praised Tatarstan's experience in relations with UNESCO, Tatar-inform reported on 3 January. Participants in a commission meeting gave high marks to a visit to the UNESCO Paris headquarters by a Tatarstan delegation headed by President Mintimer Shaimiev, saying it provided a "bridge" to that organization not only for Tatarstan but for all Russian Federation members. They also expressed approval over the activities of the Kazan Institute of Culture and Peace, what they describe as the only institution in the world training civil peacekeepers able to work in "hot spots."

Tatarstan Donates 100 Tons Of Sugar To Afghanistan
Tatarstan Emergency Situations Minister Valerii Vlasov told reporters in Dushanbe on 3 January that Tatarstan will deliver 100 tons of sugar to Afghanistan, reported. The humanitarian aid will be delivered through Tajikistan to Parkhar and Kabul by ministry helicopters, Vlasov said, adding that he will personally visit Kabul.

Euro Not Available In Kazan
Kazan's banks spent the first week after Europe's historic conversion to the euro without the currency, as a consignment of banknotes was passing customs, Efir-Inform reported on 3 January. The agency cited bank employees as saying the new currency would be available in banks by the end of the week.

Pensions Rise
Tatarstan's over-80 pensions were raised to at least 1,100 rubles ($36.5) as of 1 January, Efir-Inform reported on 3 January. Subsidies for invalids were raised by 27 percent to 900 rubles. Roughly 45,000 Kazan pensioners who continue working will be paid their full pensions.

Chally Enterprise Among Russia's 'Best'
A Chally paper mill was named among Russia's best companies in 2001 in terms of its financial efficiency, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 3 January. The company received 1.5 billion rubles in revenues and expects to show a 425 million ruble net profit for 2001. The Russian Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Union, the Trade and Industry Chamber, and the Expert Institute were organizers of the competition.

Nizhnekamskshina Leads Tire Production In Russia
A Nizhnekamskshina board meeting reported on 3 January that the company produced 9 million tires, or 31 percent of the Russian supply and 1 million more than the previous year.

Tatarstan's Interior Detachment Leaves For Chechnya
Thirty police employees from Tatarstan left Kazan on 2 January for Chechnya's Gudermes for two and a half months of service, Tatarstan Radio reported. Tatarstan Interior Minister Asgat Safarov plans to visit Chechnya on Orthodox Christmas, the radio said.

Kazan Authorities To Help Restore St. Petersburg Mosque
The Kazan administration will help repair the St. Petersburg mosque by the 300th anniversary of the city, Tatar-inform reported on 3 January. The Volkov Muslim burial ground will be also restored.

Meanwhile, St. Petersburg Mufti Dzhafar Ponchaev told on 3 January that the number of parishioners of his mosque has grown rapidly of late due to an increasing migration from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, North Caucasus, and Arab countries as well as new converts. Ponchaev said he has begun prayers in both Tatar and Russian.

New Passports Carrying Christian Symbols Criticized
"Severnyi kuryer" published a reader's letter criticizing the fact that new Russian passports are decorated with crosses as symbols of the Christian faith, reported on 3 January. The author, who presented himself as Russian, said all residents of Russia, including 20 million Muslims, were thus lumped in as Christians and predicted troubles with passport exchange throughout the country.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan, Tatarstan Said Main Item Of Federal Budget Losses
Members told an Audit Chamber meeting that "violations of tax laws in Bashkiria and Tataria" were major cause of federal budget losses in 2000, "Vedomosti" reported on 25 January. The chamber's chief inspector, Vladimir Sychev, said that according to power-sharing treaties, the republics kept a portion of taxes generally transferred to the federal budget -- resulting in a loss of some 19 billion rubles ($633 million). Chamber members stressed that such behavior violates the Russian Constitution, which asserts the equality of federation members. Sychev said that, beginning from 2001, the two republics have paid their taxes to the federal budget in full. However, the paper cited a source in the Russian Finance Ministry as saying that the republics pay fully "only on paper," since of the additional 19 billion rubles, 17 billion rubles is returned to them in federal subsidies: 6 billion rubles to Bashkortostan and 11 billion rubles to Tatarstan. Moscow plans to stop these transfers only in four years, the source said.

Thirty-Five Residents Died Of HIV Infection In 2001
The number of HIV carriers grew sixfold in 2001 to 2,541, or 66 for every 100,000 residents, Bashinform reported on 3 January. Thirty-five infected residents died in the republic last year.

Bashkirenergo Says It Covers Republic's Energy Needs
Bashkirenergo representatives told Bashinform on 3 January that the main issues their company will have to solve in the future include energy safety, energy costs, and competitiveness of the republican networks on the Russian energy market. Bashkortostan's eastern residential areas of Beloretsk, Baimak, Sibai, and Uchaly currently receive 5 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually from Chelyabenergo, while Oktyabrskii, Tuimazy, and Belebei in the west receive 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours from Tatenergo. In its turn, Bashkirenergo transmits 5 billion kilowatt-hours to Perm Oblast and more than 2 billion kilowatt-hours to Udmurtia.

Government Promotes Land Register
The Bashkortostan government plans this year to finish a five-year project to create an automatic system of state land registration, Bashinform reported. Roughly 70 percent of all land has been registered in the republic.

Tadjuddin Opposes Papal Visit To Kazan
Talgat Tadjuddin, the supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, signaled he was not in favor of a visit by Pope John Paul II to the celebration of Kazan's millennium, reported on 1 January, citing RIA-Novosti. Tadjuddin said such a visit "could not be considered timely." He said Muslim leaders should firstly take into account interests of the Kazan Eparchy of the Moscow Patriarchy. He noted that the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches still have not resolved their conflict in Western Ukraine.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova