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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 8, 2002

8 July 2002
Case Against Tatar Legislature Dropped
The Tatar Supreme Court on 4 July threw out a case brought by Chally resident Azat Agliullin against the Tatar State Council for actions it took while adopting amendments to the Tatar Constitution that he claims were illegal, reported on 4 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 21 June 2002). A first hearing was scheduled for 19 June but was postponed upon the request of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, the State Council, and the Tatar Prosecutor's Office, who argued that they were not given sufficient time to study the complaint. A second hearing scheduled for 28 June did not take please because Agliullin did not appear in court. Agliullin also did not attend a third hearing scheduled for 4 July. Instead he asked the court to throw out his case, and the court granted his wish.

Meeting Discusses Republican Budgetary Issues
Tatarstan collected 25.6 billion rubles ($812 million) in budgetary revenues in the first six months of 2002, 9 percent more than expected, Finance Minister Radik Gaizatullin told a meeting of the republic's financial and treasury bodies on 4 July, Tatar-inform reported the same day. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said at the meeting that the increase in revenues was a result of early tax payments by large companies in the republic upon the request of the government. This was done in order to enable the timely payment of wages to teachers and other public-sector workers. At the same time, the government failed to collect 311 million rubles ($9.8 million) in taxes, while collecting 94 percent of excise taxes and 98 percent of income taxes. The problem, however was sales tax, where only 44 percent of expected revenues were paid into the budget. It was also announced at the meeting that only nine of the republic's 45 raions were able to finance educational institutions in full and on time, only 13 were able to finance health-care institutions, and 18 were able to finance cultural institutions. Meanwhile, Gaizatullin said illegal credits from local budgets totaling 418 million rubles ($13.2 million) is one of the chief problems the republic faces in the budgetary sphere.

Ministry Discusses Trade With CIS Countries
Deputy Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Rustam Karimov said on 4 July that Tatarstan's trade turnover with countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) increased from 9.7 percent of its total share in 2000 to 14.6 percent in 2001, Tatar-inform reported the same day. In 1998, trade with CIS countries totaled 18.1 percent of Tatarstan's total. Karimov added that raw materials accounted for the majority of exports to CIS countries, including the delivery of $200 million worth of oil to Ukraine's Kremenchug oil refinery, which constituted 44 percent of the total trade turnover with CIS countries in 2001.

Political Group Protests Language Amendment
"Vremya i dengi" daily published on 5 July an appeal by the presidium of the Tatarstan-New Century (TNV) political movement to the Russian State Duma concerning the amendment to the law on languages of peoples of Russia passed in its first reading on 5 June, according to which Russia's peoples are permitted to use only the Cyrillic script for state languages (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 June 2002). The appeal says the amendment violates the Russian Constitution, which gives republics the right "to establish their state languages" and guarantees for "all peoples, the right to maintain [their] native languages and to create conditions to study and develop [those languages]." The TNV presidium said the amendment violates the right of the Tatar people to decide for themselves issues concerning the development of their language and that it interferes in Tatarstan's powers. The presidium called on Duma deputies to return to a discussion of the issue and to take into account the historical traditions and will of one of Russia's largest peoples. The presidium stressed that this is not a matter of Latin versus Cyrillic script, but is a matter of federalism versus a unitary system of government, as well as of democratic versus authoritarian ways of solving Russia's nationalities issues.

Tatar Leaders Prepare For Third World Congress
The heads of local chapters of the World Tatar Congress from throughout Russia gathered on 4 July in Kazan to discuss preparations for the third World Tatar Congress slated for 28-29 August, Tatar-inform reported the same day. The assembly also discussed preparations for the October national census, calling it the most important issue for Tatars at the moment. Participants also said it is necessary that the Tatar nation maintain unity in the census and that they take a negative view of attempts to divide Tatars according to their religion.

Days Of Tatar Youth Open In Kazan
More than 100 representatives of Tatar youth from some 40 regions of Russia and former Soviet republics gathered at the Volga international tourist camp near Kazan for Days of Tatar Youth that are being held from 6-13 July, Tatar-inform reported on 4 July. Participants will be given lessons in Tatar language, religion, history, and culture. The forum, which was initiated by the Ministry on Youth Affairs and Sport, is being held for the 13th time.

Mass-Media Subscriptions Falling
The number of subscribers to newspapers and magazines in the republic fell by 4.6 percent in the second half of 2001, while subscriptions to Russian mass-media outlets fell by 6.5 percent during the same period, Tatar-inform reported on 5 July. "Tatarstan yeshlere," "Yuldash," and "Vechernyaya Kazan" have the most subscribers with 75,229, 53,175, and 47,096, respectively. The most popular federal print publication in the republic is "Trud" with 20,547 subscribers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rescue Workers Continue Search For Bodies Of Last 2 Crash Victims
The bodies of all but two of the 71 victims of a 1 July midair collision between a Bashkir Airlines passenger plane and a DHL cargo plane have been recovered, RIA-Novosti reported on 7 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002). reported today that 43 of the bodies have been identified. Data from planes' black boxes are expected to be made available no earlier than 10 July.

Relatives Of Crash Victims Visit Crash Site...
A group of some 140 relatives of crash victims flew to Germany on 4 July to visit the site of the 1 July crash, Bashkir Emergency Situations Minister Marat Magadeev told a press conference the next day in Ufa. Bashkir Airlines chartered a flight to take the relatives to Germany and back to Bashkortostan. Magadeev said that preparations have been made to return victims remains to Ufa as soon as they are identified. The remains of 33 victims were returned to Ufa today.

...Promised Support From Russian Government
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed on 5 July a resolution to establish a government commission to help the families of the Bashkir Airlines crash victims, Bashinform reported on 5 July. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko will chair the commission. The same day, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko said the Russian government will provide financial support to families of crash victims, RIA-Novosti reported. Compensation payments will be determined once the investigation into the crash is completed, Matvienko said.

Moscow To Pay Ufa 34 Billion As Part Of Social Program
The Russian government approved on 4 July a federal program for the next four years on the social and economic development of Bashkortostan, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Funding for the 172 billion-ruble ($5.5 billion) program will come from a number of sources: 34 billion rubles ($1 billion) from the federal budget, 29 billion rubles ($920 million) from the republican budget, 52 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) from private businesses, 40 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) from bank credits, and the rest from local budgets and other sources. The agency quoted Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov as saying that the program was backed by the entire cabinet. Baidavletov said 50 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) will be spent on social issues, 4.2 billion rubles ($133 million) on the development of health care, and 3 billion rubles ($95 million) on environmental protection.

"Kommersant" daily reported on 5 July that Prime Minister Kasyanov postponed consideration of the program throughout June and that as a result, Baidavletov reduced the cost of the program from the proposed 300 billion rubles ($9.5 billion) to 172 billion rubles.

The daily reported that Baidavletov agreed to make amendments to the Bashkir Constitution in return for financing from the federal budget. Baidavletov told "Kommersant" that he is willing to trade the Bashkir Constitution for the 34 billion rubles of federal money that will be spent on social issues.

Moscow is demanding that Ufa refuse its rights not to hold federal elections during a state of emergency, and to appoint members of the republican central electoral commission and heads of local territorial departments of the Russian Central Bank.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova