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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 11, 2002

11 April 2002
State Power Company Undergoes Privatization
Ilshat Fardiev, the general director of Tatenergo, Tatarstan's monopoly energy provider, told a news conference on 9 April that the company had been privatized, following a decision of the republican government in February 2002. In addition, the charter of the newly privatized company, OAO Tatenergo, had been officially registered on 4 April.

In accordance with the privatization plan, the new company will have a vertical power structure, with Tatenergo being the major holding comprised of three subsidiaries. Each of the subsidiary companies will be responsible for one major area of Tatenergo's business: A generating company will unite all of the republic's power plants, a network company will be in charge of the company's high-voltage power lines, and a dispatch center will be responsible for communications and the distribution of electricity.

Fardiev said that Tatarstan's Ministry of Land and Property Relations currently owns 85 percent of the shares in the head company, OAO Tatenergo. The remaining 15 percent of the shares are to be distributed among the company's employees at a 50 percent discount. This closed share distribution began on 5 April and will continue until 18 April.

The subsidiary companies, however, are owned jointly by Tatenergo and a number of the republic's major power consumers, "Izvestiya" reported on 10 April. Along with Tatenergo, Tuben Kama Oil Chemical Company and Kazan Organic Synthesis Plant own the generating company. The amounts of their holdings were not available. Tatneft has a 10 percent stake in the network company, while Tatenergo controls the remaining 90 percent. Tatneft also has a 5 percent stake in the dispatch center, with Tatenergo controlling the other 95 percent.

Fardiev noted during the press conference that the controlling stake belongs to Tatarstan's government and that Russia's Unified Energy Systems will not have any role in the privatization process.

Prosecutor Seeks Dissolution Of Tatarstan's Constitutional Court
Tatarstan's Supreme Court on 10 April began hearing a case brought by the republic's chief prosecutor, Kafil Amirov, against the republic's law on the Constitutional Court. Amirov claims that the law violates federal legislation on the Russian Constitutional Court. Representatives of Tatarstan's State Council, which passed the law in 1998, and members of the Constitutional Court, said during the session that a revised draft law, which is designed to meet Moscow's requirements, is currently being considered in the State Council. Nonetheless, Amirov insisted that the existing republican law be abolished because it doesn't contain any references to the federal Constitutional Court. If the court grants the prosecutor's claim, this would effectively undermine the existence and operation of Tatarstan's Constitutional Court.

Paper Blames Communications Ministry For Beefing Up Subscription Costs
"Vechernaya Kazan" daily on 10 April published an article accusing Tatarstan's Ministry of Communications of abusing its monopoly status on the delivery of mail and newspapers in the republic. The paper claimed that because of the drastic decrease in the number of postcards, letters, parcels, and other types of mail in the last decade, newspaper subscription fees remain the only significant source of revenue at the ministry's disposal. In addition, fewer people can now afford subscriptions. As a result, only 132 million copies of newspapers and magazines were reportedly distributed via post in 2001, while in 1991 their number reached 579 million. "As a result, Tatarstan is now facing an ugly situation in which postal services claim 60 percent of the subscription cost. By comparison, Russia's papers allow the post office to take no more than 30 percent [of the cost]," "Vechernaya Kazan" reported.

Juvenile Crime On The Rise In Republic
Valery Sokolov, the deputy chief of Tatarstan's Public Security Militia, told a meeting of the republican Juvenile Affairs and Rights-Protection Commission on 10 April that 4,205 crimes were committed by juveniles in the republic in 2001, which is an increase of 3.6 percent compared to the previous year. The number of extremely violent crimes in the republic also increased drastically in 2001. Sokolov added that minors -- some of whom cannot be punished since they are under the age of 14 -- committed 22 percent more murders than in the previous year. Meanwhile, some 5,600 parents in Tatarstan received administrative fines for not providing for their children. Of these, 606 were deprived of parental rights in 2001.

Tax Police Report On Activities In 2001
The deputy chief of the federal Tax Police in Tatarstan, Gumar Gainutdinov, told reporters on 10 April that in 2001 his subordinates forced the repayment of 8.1 billion rubles ($261 million) in taxes and fines, which constitutes a sum equal to 20 percent of Tatarstan's budget. He said that, in his opinion, the shadow economy represented 30-40 percent of the gross domestic product of Russia, adding that the republic's businessmen were coming up with more sophisticated schemes to evade paying taxes.

Traffic Accidents On The Rise In First Quarter 2002
Rifkat Minnikhanov, head of Tatarstan's Traffic Police, said on 10 April that the number of traffic accidents, accident-related injuries, and accident-related deaths, increased by 25.7 percent, 29 percent, and 61.3 percent, respectively, during the first three months of 2002. The Traffic Police registered 884 traffic accidents during the first quarter of 2002, in which 1,060 people were injured and 129 people killed.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Deputy Comments On Exclusion Of Communists From Duma Committees
Zainulla Bagishaev, a State Duma deputy from Bashkortostan, told Bashinform on 10 April that there is a number of reasons for the recent decision to exclude deputies of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation from leadership positions in Duma committees.

Bagishaev explained that, in his opinion, the reasons for this decision originated when the Communist Party dominated in the State Duma. He said that, at that time, the Duma resembled a closed joint-stock company where Communists were able to earn good money by lobbying for, or introducing, amendments to draft laws that would be worth more in the marketplace than the laws themselves.

Second, the Communists turned the State Duma into an election headquarters, using the building to run free election campaigns.

Third, Bagishaev claimed that Communist leaders had every imaginable advantage, such as Mercedes cars and large bank accounts with "lots of zeros."

Bagishaev added that the Communists often torpedoed the legislative process in the various committees they headed and they blocked all the most important draft laws proposed by the Russian president and government. In particular, Bagishaev asserted, the head of the Agrarian Policy Committee, Vladimir Plotnikov, prevented the discussion of the draft land code for several months.

TPC Criticizes Violation Of Tatar Cultural Rights
Bashkortostan�s Tatar Public Center (TPC) held a congress on 6 April in Ufa in which 71 delegates from Bashkortostan�s 12 districts took part, RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported on 8 April. Congress participants sharply criticized Bashkortostan�s authorities for turning the upcoming census into a political issue and for taking all possible measures to increase the number of Bashkirs in the republic.

Delegates claimed that Bashkortostan media reflect a one-sided view on the census issue. They also stressed that the languages and cultures of peoples are not given equal opportunities to develop in the republic.

Newly formed Tatar civic groups have also been refused registration by republic authorities, and existing Tatar organizations that need to re-register have also been refused, the delegates claimed.

Tatarstan�s TPC Leader Promotes Idel-Ural Confederation
Rashit Yagfarov, the leader of Tatarstan's TPC, called for the establishment of a political movement of the Idel-Ural peoples, which would be aimed at the creation of an Idel-Ural confederation, RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported on 8 April. Yagfarov was speaking at a congress of the Bashkortostan TPC in Ufa on 6 April. "We can maintain our peoples only by creating an Idel-Ural confederation," he said.

Yagfarov said an Idel-Ural civic organization is registered in Tatarstan and that similar organizations are currently being promoted in Chuvashia and the republic of Marii El.

Yagfarov added that he had discussed the idea with leaders of a number of Bashkir organizations, who supported his idea. He also called for the Tatar and Bashkir peoples to end tensions and to develop a joint mechanism to defend the sovereignties of the two republics.

TPC Leader Calls For Referendum On Language Status
Addressing the Bashkortostan TPC congress in Ufa on 6 April, the leader of Bashkortostan�s Tatar National Cultural Autonomy, Zakhir Khakimov, suggested that a referendum be held in Bashkortostan to ask citizens if they support equal status for the Bashkir, Russian, and Tatar languages, and whether they would agree to rename Bashkortostan the Ufa Republic. The congress formed an organizing committee to initiate the referendum, RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported on 8 April.

Public Leaders Unite Efforts To Defend Sovereignty
Leaders of Tatarstan�s TPC met on 6 April with the heads of the Bashkir People�s Center Ural and the Executive Committee of the Bashkir World Congress to discuss prospects for cooperation, RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported on 8 April. The Tatar and Bashkir leaders promoted joint measures to defend the sovereignty and legislation of the republics, to develop ties between the two related peoples, to strengthen the Turan movement, and to promote the unity of Turkic peoples.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova