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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 2, 2002

2 August 2002
Republican President Meets With Unified Russia Delegation
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev met with a delegation of the General Council of the Unified Russia party headed by Chairman Aleksandr Bespalov on 1 August, reported the same day. Shaimiev, who is cochairman of the Unified Russia's Supreme Council, said the party should clearly state its positions on the most urgent issues facing the country, including reform of Russia's Unified Energy Systems; land reform; reform of Russia's Tax, Criminal, and Administrative codes; and power sharing between Moscow and the regions. Shaimiev stressed that: "We should never forget that Russia is supposed to be a democratic federative state in which representatives of various nationalities live. Their interests and needs are to be taken into account."

Tatar Mufti Discusses Possible U.S. Invasion Of Iraq...
Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abbas Khalaf met with Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board Chairman Gusman Iskhakov in Kazan on 31 July, reported the same day. According to the site, various topics were discussed, but the first priority was the possible invasion of Iraq by Great Britain and the United States. The director of the presidential department for external relations, Timur Akulov, sat in on Iskhakov's meeting.

...And Mulls Religious-Education Exchange With Baghdad
Khalaf and Iskhakov also discussed possible cooperation in the field of religious education, reported. Khalaf said that Iraq is ready to send two teachers to Islamic institutions of higher education in Kazan and to invite Tatar students to come to Iraq for training at Saddam Hussein University. Khalaf also invited Iskhakov to visit Iraq to acquaint himself with the religious life of the population there.

Health-Care Sector To Face Reduced Financing In 2003
Financing from the republican budget for the health-care sector will be reduced in 2003 by more than 2 billion rubles ($63 million), Tatar Health Minister Kamil Ziyatdinov told a meeting of the ministry's board on 31 July, reported the next day. Tatarstan currently ranks third among Russian regions in terms of budget money spent on health care.

The minister said that once funding is cut, medical equipment will have to be used more efficiently. He also said that the head of every hospital is to submit a plan indicating how it is to deal with reduced financing.

Meanwhile, the head of the State Council's Financial Control Committee, Zyamil Yagudin, said at the meeting that an audit of ministry's financial activities that was conducted at the beginning of the year revealed that the ministry had misused 74.1 million rubles in 2000 and 2001. Among others things, he noted that a foreign automobile was purchased for 1.2 million rubles ($70,000) in 2001.

This year's budget called for the allocation of 8.7 billion rubles to be spent on health care, while only 40 percent of that, or 3.4 billion rubles, have been transferred to the ministry so far.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa Working On Amendments To Treaty With Moscow
The chairman of the Bashkir legislature, Konstantin Tolkachev, said on 1 August that a protocol proposing amendments to the 1994 power-sharing treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan will soon be published, "Izvestiya" daily reported the same day. The Bashkir parliament is working out the protocol to harmonize the power-sharing treaty with federal legislation. Tolkachev said the protocol would remove abstract elements from the treaty and would reflect the actual reality of relations between Ufa and Moscow.

The daily cited unidentified sources in Ufa as saying that a meeting between Tolkachev and Dmitrii Kozak, deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, was planned for next week to discuss the document. It added that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov would sign the document following the meeting.

In accordance with the concept of power sharing that has been worked out under Kozak's supervision, treaty-based relations can be maintained "in exceptional cases" with respect to the "special geographic, social, economic, or other peculiarities of a subject [of the Russian Federation]." Such "exceptional" treaties must be approved by both chambers of the Russian parliament. Bashkir politicians, however, insist that the protocol doesn't need to be approved by the Russian parliament.

The paper said that Bashkir leaders want to link amendments to the power-sharing treaty to the new republican constitution in which they intend to maintain the principle of sovereignty. "Ufa is not going to seriously change anything," the daily commented.

Swiss President Speaks Out About Air Crash
Swiss President Kaspar Villiger thinks the best way of expressing condolences for the 1 July air crash involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet in airspace monitored by Swiss air-traffic controllers is to form new relations with Bashkortostan, RIA-Novosti reported on 1 August. Villiger expressed regret that the position of the Swiss government in response to the accident was misunderstood. He said that this was partly the fault of statements made by Skyguide, the company in charge of Swiss air-traffic controllers. Skyguide initially blamed the crash on the crew of the Bashkir Airlines flight, while many considered this to be the view of "Switzerland and of the Federal Council [Swiss government]," Villiger said, adding that, "the Federal Council did not say that mistakes are impossible in Switzerland."

The vast majority of the 71 victims in the collision of the Bashkir Airlines Tupolev 154 with a DHL cargo jet were residents of Bashkortostan.

Bashneft Increasing Production
Bashneft's production was 2.6 percent higher in the first six months of this year compared to the same period of 2001, while in Western Siberia, production soared to a 77 percent increase, Bashinform reported on 1 August, citing the oil company's press service. Bashneft is currently developing its Kirsko-Kottynskoe, Khazarskoe, and Lyukpaiskoe deposits in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug where the volume of oil extracted is expected to reach 1 million tons in the next few days. The company is also planning to begin extracting oil in Kazakhstan and Mauritania.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova