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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 27, 2002

27 June 2002
Kasyanov Denies Reports Of Layoffs At KamAZ...
During a visit to Chally on 26 June, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov denied earlier reports about plans to lay off as many as 15,000 workers at the KamAZ automotive concern, reported the same day, citing RIA-Novosti (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30, 31 May, and 3 June 2002). Kasyanov also said that KamAZ will repay back wages by September.

The prime minister said he is satisfied that, "investments made by the [federal] government into KamAZ's modernization will fully pay for themselves and [any] problems with debts and creditors have been resolved."

KamAZ controls 45 percent of the market for trucks in Russia, and its export orders have grown, Kasyanov said, adding that the Russian government will promote sales of KamAZ products in both domestic and foreign markets.

Industry and Science Minister Ilya Klebanov, who was a part of Kasyanov's delegation, said that by 1 October, the government plans to prohibit sales of trucks equipped with euro-0 engines, the majority of which are Minsk-produced MAZes. Next year, vehicles produced with euro-1 engines will be also banned, and by 2010, only euro-4 engines will be permitted, Klebanov said.

...Says Russia Has No Plans To Increase Import Tariffs On Automobiles
Prime Minister Kasyanov said in Chally on 26 June that it would be necessary to raise tariffs on foreign-made automobiles "only if there were a serious [increase] in production in Russia [that served as] an alternative to foreign cars," reported the same day, citing RIA-Novosti. He said import duties are purely "a minor mechanism for reforming domestic production of automobiles." Kasyanov said the issue of raising import tariffs could be discussed if serious production of licensed automobiles were to begin in Russia.

Tatar Journalists Refused Access To Press Conference
Reporters from Tatar-language mass-media outlets were refused accreditation to attend a press conference with Kasyanov in Chally on 26 June, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported the same day. During the 2000 visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Chally, members of the Tatar press were granted such accreditation.

Tatar Companies Among Russia's Best Exporters
Four Tatar companies were named among Russia's 100 top exporters in 2001, reported on 26 June. Tatneft oil company was ranked seventh, slipping two places from the previous year. Nizhnekamskneftekhim was ranked 23rd, a rise of three spots from 2000. Kazanskii Vertoletnyi Zavod (the Kazan Helicopter Plant) was 35th, rising from 53rd the year before. Finally, Kazanorgzintez occupied 85th position, dropping 10 places from 75th in 2000. Nizhnekamskneftekhim was also ranked 10th on the list of exporting companies with the largest number of clients. The ratings were compiled by the rating agency Ekspert RA and DHL.

TIU Leader Raises Questions About Investigation Into Attack
The leader of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally, Rafis Kashapov, who was attacked along with five other members at the TIU office in Chally on 29 May, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 26 June that prosecutors gave him a document saying that he gave evidence of the event on the day of the attack (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 and 31 May 2002). In fact, Kashapov said, he was unconscious on 29 May following the assault, was hospitalized in intensive care, and was unable to give any evidence. Kashapov said that this shows that the investigation is not being carried out properly. He added that the assault was "political terror against the [Tatar] national movement."

Kashapov is still recovering, though he has begun walking again and has been moved from intensive care to a regular ward, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported. Another victim of the attack, Gabdulla Shaisultanov recovered consciousness just several days ago and remains in serious condition.

Documents Brought To Light About Executed Tatar Leader
The Tatar Publishing House has issue a book titled "Sultangaliev: Declassified Documents From His Case File" to mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of Mirsaid Sultangaliev, a famous Tatar politician and national ideologist who was shot by the NKVD in Moscow in 1940, reported on 26 June, citing the press service of the Main Archive of Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers. The publication includes documents that had been classified for more than 50 years. SultangAliyev was one of the chief opponents of Josef Stalin on nationalities issues during the establishment of the Soviet Union.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Yabloko Appeals Verdict In Defamation Suit
Igor Rabinovich, head of the Yabloko party branch in Bashkortostan, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 26 June that his party recently appealed the 5 June ruling of the Kuntsevskii Intermunicipal Court of Moscow according to which Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and party activist Dmitrii Khrustalev are to pay 20,000 and 5,000 rubles ($640 and $160), respectively, in compensation to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov for defamation during the 1999 elections to the Russian State Duma (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5 and 6 June 2002).

The case attracted broad interest among Bashkortostan's media and Rakhimov publicly announced that the compensation money was to be given to an orphanage in the republic. Rabinovich told RFE/RL on 26 June that, "It will be difficult to explain to the children and workers at the orphanage that they won't get that money because we don't agree with the court ruling." He noted that orphanages should get support from the state budget and not from such trial-related activities. The appeal is reportedly to be heard by a Moscow city court.

Tatar Group Doesn't Get Day In Court As Defendant Goes On Vacation
A scheduled hearing in the case of the Tatar National Cultural Autonomy against the Bashkir branch of the Russian Justice Ministry at Ufa's Oktyabrskii Raion Court did not take place on 25 June because of the absence of the defendant, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the next day. The autonomy is suing the ministry for not allowing it to be officially registered in the republic, something it has been trying to do since 1997. Deputy Chairman of the autonomy Elfir Sakaev said that Justice Ministry head Ilshat Kilmakov went on vacation despite being informed of the court session a month in advance. Sakaev said the hearing didn't take place because the autonomy is set to win the case after spending five years in court. In previous years, however, the rulings of the Oktyabrskii court in favor of the autonomy have been overruled by the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan.

Tatar Activist Believes Congress Will Be Approved
Sakaev, who is also one of the activists preparing the planned Tatar congress in Bashkortostan, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 26 June that the Bashkir government still has not answered letters from the Tatar government to President Rakhimov and Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov seeking authorization for the congress. Sakaev said, however, that he firmly believes the event will be held prior to the third World Tatar Congress on 28 August, "especially in light of President Murtaza Rakhimov's statements about interethnic accord in [Bashkortostan] during the second World Bashkir Congress in June 2002."

The Tatar congress in Bashkortostan plans to consider the issues of Tatar demographics in the republic, Tatar education, the status of the Tatar language, Tatar culture and traditions, and problems faced by Tatar youth in the region where their nation officially represents the second-largest ethnic group after Russians.

Speaker, Prosecutor Discuss Legislative Harmonization
Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev met with Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev on 25 June in Moscow, Bashinform reported yesterday. The agency said Zvyagintsev was satisfied with the Bashkir government's approach toward the issue of the harmonization of laws between the republic and the federal center.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi