Accessibility links

Breaking News

Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 14, 2002

14 February 2002
Shaimiev Promotes Common Requirements For Regional Presidential Balloting
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev told Interfax on 13 February that legislative terms in federal presidential elections should be implemented in the presidential polls held among regions. He suggested that, as on the federal level, only candidates winning majority of votes cast with a minimum turnout rate of not less than 51 percent should be awarded presidential seats. Currently in different Russian regions it takes from 15 percent to 50 percent of votes to win electoral races.

Shaimiev said proposals by some Russian politicians saying regional leaders should be appointed by Moscow or by elections in which they have to win over half of the registered population are "impossible and contradict democratic norms." He added, "Backing away from democratic principles, we are discrediting these principles in the eyes of the society. Many say during discussions in the State Duma that if the elections in territorial entities become protracted, the president should appoint the regional leader. As a result, only two or three people from the country leader's staff will decide on the governor's fate. Because the president cannot know everybody, finally he will make the decision based on the proposals from a narrow circle of individuals.... Only through elections are we able to proceed further down the path of democratic development in our country." The Tatar president said he "does not think the Russian president will begin appointing regional heads."

Siberian Alumni Denies Speculations About Its Interest In KamAZ
Viktor Belayev, the first vice president in charge of business management at Siberian Alumni investment company, in an interview with the daily "Vecherniye Chelny" on 13 February rejected rumors of his company's interest in taking over the KamAZ automotive concern. Such speculation arose in Chally in light of growing wage arrears to employees, news that KamAZ's owners have not yet prolonged their contract with KamAZ General Director Ivan Kostin, and a stoppage of the main assembly line from 8-11 February. Siberian Alumni has already formed an automotive holding that holds majorities in the Gorky automotive plant; the Pavlovsk, Lipetsk, and Golitsin bus plants; the Yaroslavl engine factory; and UralAZ.

Belayev said KamAZ does not interest his company because the concern "does not have a concrete owner for a constructive dialogue. When an enterprise have multiple owners, it is a mass grave." He added that his company considers it unprofitable to purchase a control stack in KamAZ "because it would be too expensive and there are no profits foreseen in the near future."

Afghan War Anniversary Marked In Kazan
Afghan War veterans residing in Tatarstan gathered at the Kazan National Cultural Center on 13 February to mark the 13th anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The event was organized by the republic's military commissioner's office and the cabinet of ministers. Security Council Secretary Viner Salimov greeted the veterans on the behalf of President Shaimiev.

Tatneft Intensifies Oil Extraction
Tatneft oil company sped the launch of new oil threefold in January, compared to the rate a year earlier, in order to compensate for a slump in world oil prices, Tatarinform reported on 13 February. The company reportedly froze the extraction at its old wells, which demand higher production costs, and extracted 2,700 tons of oil -- more than twice that in January 2001.

RTR To Resume Its Programs For And About Muslims
Russian state broadcaster RTR TV will present the first installment of its "Musulmane" ("Muslims") program on 15 February, featuring stories about life and traditions within Tatarstan's Muslim community. According to some of Tatarstan's media on 14 February, RTR began the new program from Tatarstan because a Kazan resident inquired about Russian President Vladimir Putin's attitude toward Muslims in his nationwide "bridge" program in December.

Armed Criminals Attack Bus In Tuben Kama
Five armed and unidentified criminals attacked a bus transporting market merchants near the village of Samonovka, in Tatarstan's Tuben Kama region on 12 February, republican media reported. The masked assailants reportedly took 15,000 rubles ($500) from the passengers after shooting out the bus windows and storming the vehicle.

Book On Crimean Tatars Published In Kazan
Venera Yakupova, editor in chief of the "Kazanskiye Vedomosti" newspaper, presented her book, titled "Crimean Tatars, or Hello From Stalin," devoted to the tragedy of Tatars deported from Crimea in 1944 and including life stories of the people who struggled to return home decades after deportation.

Base Metals Theft Worries Tatar Militia
Tatarstan Interior Ministry officials told a press conference on 13 February that 2,704 thefts of equipment made from base metals were registered in the republic in 2001. Although 1,906 such crimes were investigated, major industrial companies like Tatneft and Tatenergo suffered tens of millions of rubles in damages. Nine people were killed by electric shock in 2001 in unsuccessful attempts to steal power cables from Tatarstan's electricity networks, officials added. Some of the ministry officials at the conference suggested that private companies purchasing the base metals from individuals for cash should be eliminated to discourage people from stealing goods and equipment containing base metals.

Kazan Helicopters To Be Offered At Singapore Fair
Kazan Helicopter Plant will participate in the international Asian Airspace trade fair in Singapore on 26 February-3 March, Tatarstan state TV reported on 13 February. According to the company's marketing department, the plant will present its Mi-172 helicopter, which is a civilian modification of a Mi-17 large-capacity helicopter, known as a base model for heavy gunships and flying hospitals.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Duma Deputy Says Bashkir Nuclear Station Will Be Safe
Robert Nigmatulin, Duma deputy and a brother of the atomic energy deputy minister, told "Vremya novostei" on 12 February that completion of the Bashkir Nuclear Station's first block will cost some $500 million. Nigmatulin said the Tatar Nuclear Station, the South-Ural Nuclear Station, and the fourth block of the Beloyarsk Nuclear Station are competitors to the Bashkir project.

He stressed that even more money was spent a decade ago on the construction of the Tatar Nuclear Station, though most of it was then destroyed, adding that Tatarstan leaders still have not made clear their position on the issue. He said the station will consist of four VVER reactors with 1,000-megawatt capacities that belong to the third generation of reactors and provide enough safety.

Nigmatulin, who is president of the Bashkortostan Academy of Sciences, said his academy will offer a definitive position on the environmental expertise of the project. However, there are opponents of the nuclear station among members of the Bashkortostan's Academy of Sciences who, he said, are spreading the rumor that the station is constructed on a fault line.

Mortality From Alcohol Grew By One-Third
Bashkortostan Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov told a meeting of the government's commission for the control of alcohol production and sales that the number of deaths resulting from alcohol ingestion grew by 31 percent in 2001, Bashinform reported on 13 February. Bashkortostan boasts the third-highest alcohol production among Russian regions. Baidavletov said 15 percent of alcohol sold in the republic is imported, and 10 percent of imported alcohol was found to be defective.

One In 10 Residents Employed In Small-Business Sector
Deputy Foreign Relations and Trade Minister Robert Vagapov said 97,000 small businesses were registered in the republic, or 24 per 1,000 residents, Bashinform reported on 11 February. Roughly 185,000 residents are employed in the sector, representing 11 percent of the workforce.

TPC Appeals To Moscow Over Administration Heads, Tatar Rights
Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center issued a statement charging that it is a violation of federal legislation when city and raion administration heads are at the same time heads of local elected bodies, RFE/RL's Ura correspondent reported on 13 February. Bashkortostan's administration heads' status as appointed officials violates democratic rules, the center said.

The TPC also passed a resolution to protest the division of Tatars in the 2002 census, saying such a division is being done without the necessary scientific background research. The document expresses concern with a policy by local authorities to register Bashkortostan's Tatars as "Bashkirs," calling it a gross violation of the rights of Tatars. The TPC appeals were sent to President Vladimir Putin, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

Bashkortostan Muslims Leave For Mecca
Thirty-five pilgrims, half-again as many as a year ago, were expected to leave Bashkortostan for Saudi Arabia for hajj on 14 February, reported. Before the August 1998 crisis, some 400-500 residents went on the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca every year.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova