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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 9, 2002

9 April 2002
Opposition Movement Sues President And Parliament
Tatarstan's Supreme Court held on 8 April its hearing of a lawsuit filed by three members of the opposition movement RiZ (Equality and Legality) against Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev for "unlawful actions" in proposing the State Council draft budget for 2002. Since June 2001, Alexander Shtanin, Ildus Sultanov, and Masgut Khafizov have claimed that the republic's law on budget-adoption procedures violates federal legislation. They claim that the president himself must propose the draft budget, not the Cabinet of Ministers.

Shtanin, a deputy in the State Council, also claimed that the draft budget did not present a complete breakdown of expected budgetary revenues and expenditures. Instead, it contained merely three items: revenues, expenditures, and surplus. In addition, Shtanin claims the parliamentary oversight committee should have checked the proposed draft, but he says that only the State Council's Budget Committee actually considered it.

Tatarstan's Supreme Court rejected this suit in 2001, sending it to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation instead. Having heard the case twice, the federal Supreme Court sent the case back to the Tatarstan court where the suit was split into two separate cases, one against the republic's budget law and the other against Tatarstan's president and parliament.

On 26 February, Tatarstan's Supreme Court granted the claim against the budget law and ordered the Vakhitov District Court of Kazan to hear the second case on 7 March. That court claimed that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case against the president and State Council, but the Tatarstan Supreme Court annulled that decision in yesterday's ruling, ordering the district court hear the case after all.

Following yesterday's court session, the plaintiffs told reporters that their ultimate goal is to reveal violations by the government in its implementation of the republic's budget in 2000 and 2001.

Government Discuss Measures Against Drug Trafficking...
President Shaimiev and Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers gathered on 8 April to discuss the efficiency of government efforts against drug trafficking. According to a report delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Zilya Valeeva at the meeting, since 2000, Tatarstan's government has spent 105 million rubles (approximately $4 million), trying to curb drug addiction by implementing modern drug-treatment programs for addicts, as well as by providing the law-enforcement officials and medical services with new drug-detection equipment. Valeeva admitted, however, that the actual number of drug addicts in Tatarstan might be 10-15 times higher than the 7,000 currently registered drug users.

The report adds that the turnover of heroin in Tatarstan is estimated to be about 4 kilograms a day, while each drug user is said to involve an additional seven to 15 people in his addiction each year.

The meeting adjourned with an agreement to resume a number of state-funded anti-drug measures and with a resolution to bring this problem to the attention of the mass media.

...And The Introduction Of New City-Planning Measures
The 8 April meeting also touched on the issue of city planning by construction companies in the republic's urban centers. Minister of Construction and Housing Marat Khusnullin said it is essential to elaborate new legislation on city planning in Tatarstan, because the most recent act governing this issue dates back to 1969, and its regulations have never been completely implemented.

Government Offers Rewards For Promotion of Language Reform
The government of Tatarstan plans to provide grants for projects dedicated to the implementation of Tatarstan's Peoples' Languages Act and the revival of a Latin-based Tatar script, Tatar-inform reported on 8 April. Tatarstan's Ministry of Communications also announced a contest for media outlets and journalists for the best reports or publications devoted to this reform.

Tatneft Denies Media Reports Of Large-Scale Layoffs
The press service of Tatneft, Tatarstan's largest oil company, announced on 8 April that recent media reports that the company plans a 20 percent staff reduction are unfounded. The company's general director, Shafagat Takhautdinov, reportedly stated that the planned layoffs would not exceed 2 percent of the company's entire staff, currently numbering more than 100,000 employees.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Holds Series Of Talks In Moscow
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov was in Moscow on 4-5 April for a series of meetings with federal-government officials.

The president first met with Dmitrii Medvedev, the deputy head of staff of the Russian president, "for detailed discussions about Bashkortostan's economic development in the first quarter of 2002," the presidential press service reported.

Rakhimov also held a number of meetings with Russia's energy ministry, Igor Yusufov, for talks on the development of energy-supply networks in the republic; with the International Humanitarian Programs Support Fund to consider the possibility of supplying humanitarian aid and modern medical equipment to Bashkortostan; and with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the development of Bashkortostan's foreign economic ties.

In addiction, Rakhimov also met Russian Prosecutor- General Vladimir Ustinov to discuss the operation of law-enforcement agencies in the republic, and with Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov for talks on improving the efficiency of the police in Bashkortostan.

Rakhimov reportedly expressed his concern about the involvement of Bashkortostan law-enforcement officers in combat operations in Chechnya.

Bashkortostan Poised To Become Russia's Military Recruitment Leader
According to the news agency on 8 April, Bashkortostan is likely to take over top spot in terms of military recruiting in Russia by managing to supply 13,000 draftees to the country's armed forces, which is close to the same figure as Moscow, which has more than twice the population of the republic. The report says that 71.5 percent of the eligible male population of Bashkortostan met armed-forces health standards. This figure is higher than the national average, which stands at 68.6 percent of the eligible population.

Bashneft Exceeds Expectations In First Quarter
Bashneft oil company announced on 8 April that it has exceeded its planned output during the first quarter of 2002. The company extracted 2.98 million tons of oil during the first three months of this year, which is 2.9 percent more than expected. The vast majority of that amount, some 2.8 million tons, was extracted in Bashkortostan, while the rest, 129,000 tons, was extracted in western Siberia.

German Diplomats On Cultural Mission To Ufa
A delegation from the German Embassy in Moscow, led by cultural attache Wolfgang Messinger, arrived in Ufa on 8 April. While the main purpose of the trip is to open a German reading room at the Bashkortostan National Library today, the delegation has already met with the local Protestant community and plans to meet with Bashkortostan Deputy Prime Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov following the ceremony.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi