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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 26, 2002

26 April 2002
Wage Arrears Big Problem In Republic
Tatarstan is one of the worst federation subjects in the Volga Federal District in terms of wage arrears, Tatarstan Minister of Labor Boris Zakharov told a meeting of the republican trilateral commission on social and labor relations, which unites representatives of the government, trade unions, and companies, on 25 April, reported the same day. The total back wages owed by companies in the republic increased in the first quarter of 2002 by 15 percent, reaching 896.6 million rubles ($29 million).

Approximately 90 percent of back wages are owed to workers employed in the industrial sector while civil servants are owed some 7 million rubles, 6.4 million rubles of which are to come from federal coffers.

The leader of Tatarstan's trade unions, Tatyana Vodopyanova, said Tatarstan now has more companies with wage arrears than it did in 1996. That year, there were 1,443 debtor enterprises, while there are currently 1,483.

Under Russia's new Labor Code, employees who are not paid wages for more than 15 days may refuse to perform their duties. So far, the employees of only one company in the republic -- Kazan's Avtotransportnoe predpriyatie -- have decided to take this measure.

Tatarstan Behind The Times In IT Sector
The Tatarstan State Council Committee on Issues of Economic Development and Reforms discussed on 24 April the development of information technology in the republic, Tatar-inform reported the next day. The deputy head of the commission, Yusup Yakubov, said Tatarstan is far behind many other Russian regions in the information-technology sector, especially regarding the use of the Tatar language in this field, where practically no progress has been made.

Yakubov criticized the absence of a clear program for the development of the sector in the republic, saying Tatarstan has only 17,000 Internet users -- 16,000 of whom live in Kazan -- out of a total population of 3.78 million. By comparison, there are some 250,000 Internet users in the Novosibirskskaya Oblast, which has a population of 2.7 million. Even in regions that receive subsidies from the federal budget -- which Tatarstan does not -- such as Primorskii Krai (2.2 million residents), Tomskaya Oblast (1 million residents), and Khabarovsk Krai (1.5 million), there are 160,000, 100,000, and 90,000 Internet users, respectively.

State Council Deputy Marat Galeev said development of the sector in Tatarstan has been hindered because rates for Internet connections in the republic are too high, a result of the fact that the Tatarstan Communications Ministry has a monopoly on the industry. It was reported that the cheapest price for an Internet connection in Kazan is 14.42 rubles ($0.46) per hour, while it is 16.96 rubles ($0.55) per hour in Chally. In other Russian cities, however, prices are much lower, e.g., in Tolyatti it is 0.5 rubles per hour ($0.016), in Tomsk 3 rubles ($0.096), in Volgograd 6 rubles ($0.19), and in Ufa 11 rubles ($0.35).

Committee members criticized Tatarstan authorities for not taking a proactive approach to the development of information technology in the republic and requested that the Cabinet of Ministers come up with an approach on how to deal with the issue throughout the republic. In addition, the committee recommended that Tatarstan's Academy of Sciences develop proposals on the creation of a Tatar national domain on the Internet and suggested that the Communications Ministry reduce the cost of connecting to the Internet in the republic.

Prosecutor's Office Says Enlistment Commissions Illegal
The Tatarstan Prosecutor's Office said city and raion enlistment commissions had no legal basis in Tatarstan, since local self-government bodies do not exist in the republic, reported on 24 April. Prosecutors responded to an appeal by the Center for Peacekeeping and Human Rights, the Religious Juridical Service, and the Kazan Public Charity Foundation for Defense of Human Rights that earlier claimed that the enlistment commissions were illegal.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Prime Minister: Agriculture Sector Still Suffering From Communist Legacy...
In an interview with the Russian daily "Rossiya" on 25 April, Bashkortostan Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov said the Communists who ruled for 70 years in the country cannot be forgiven for forcibly creating an attitude of hostility toward private ownership and for raising an inert population, especially in rural areas. "No matter what we tried to create efficient owners of agricultural land -- a special presidential program, constant subsidies, restructuring debts, investments into social and cultural projects, development of infrastructure in rural areas � we were unable to prevent disorganization in the sector," Baidavletov said.

Thus the Bashkortostan government decided this year to take a different approach by outlining a five-year program to reform agriculture and promote market reforms in the sector, Baidavletov said.

�And Criticizes Russian Politicians For Discussing Regions' Ethnic Structure
In the same interview with "Rossiya," Prime Minister Baidavletov said the Bashkortostan leadership is proud of the harmony that exists among the republic's various ethnic and religious groups. The prime minister was responding to a question about possible displeasure among Baskortostan's population and authorities concerning the 30,000 refugees and migrants in the republic. Baidavletov sharply criticized senior Russian politicians who "shamelessly and with impunity spend so much time talking about such issues as changing the [ethnic] makeup in one region or another." He said that more care should be taken to provide for proper living conditions for the population instead of looking for guilty parties among "outsiders."

Commission Discusses Measures To Prevent Terrorism
The Bashkortostan government's Anti-Terrorist Commission chaired by Prime Minister Baidavletov gathered on 23 April to discuss measures to prevent terrorist attacks on industrial sites and medical facilities in the cities of Beloretsk, Oktyabrskii, and Kumertau, as well as to prevent the illegal sale of arms, Bashinform reported the next day. Baidavletov said the mentioned cities have become crossroads for the trafficking of various goods, including those intended for criminal purposes. The commission pointed out that certain facilities are in poor condition and lack fire and security alarms.

The commission also raised the issue of nonstate investigative and security companies; the commission charged the Interior Ministry with monitoring their activities to prevent extremists from joining them.

Government Promotes Construction Of Apartments For Chornobyl Veterans
Ildar Yamalov, Bashkortostan's deputy minister of civil defense and emergency situations, told a press conference on 25 April that 513 of 4,000 Bashkortostan residents who helped with the cleanup following the meltdown at Chornobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986 need improved housing conditions, Bashinform reported the same day. Since 1995, 296 families have received apartments in return for their services at Chornobyl. Roughly 46.8 million rubles ($1.5 million) were allocated for the program. The current republican budget allocates another 9.5 million rubles ($306,500) for this purpose.

Poll: Residents Positive About Political Situation In Bashkortostan
Some 72 percent of Bashkortostan residents polled recently have a positive view of the political situation in the republic, Bashinform reported on 24 April. An early-April poll in which 1,030 residents were questioned throughout the republic found that, if State Duma elections were held immediately, 29 percent would vote for United Russia, 20.5 percent for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, 7.6 percent for the Union of Rightist Forces, 6.8 percent for Agrarian Party, 3.1 percent for Yabloko, and 2 percent for the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova