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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 15, 2002

15 August 2002
Iraqi Finance Minister: Baghdad Ready To Develop Cooperation With Kazan
Meeting with Tatarstan's Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov on 14 August in Kazan, Iraqi Finance Minister Khikmat Al-Azavi said Baghdad will maintain and develop trade and economic relations with Tatarstan, reported on 15 August. Al-Azavi said those relations "blend with Iraq's relations with Russia."

Salikhov said Tatarstan also seeks to strengthen cooperation with Iraq in the economic and industrial sectors. cited on 15 August the Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Ministry as concurring, saying that the visit by Al-Azavi is aimed at improving cooperation between Iraq and Tatarstan in the economic, trade, and cultural sectors.

On a visit to Tatarstan on 30 July, Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abbas Khalaf suggested that Baghdad become the medium for Tatarstan-made products to appear in the markets of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Lebanon. Tatarstan's trade turnover with Iraq totaled a meager $799,000 in 2001, or 0.026 percent of the republic's total foreign trade turnover. Iraq cooperates with Tatarstan's state oil company Tatneft and the KamAZ automotive concern. Under bilateral contracts, KamAZ plans to deliver 5,000 trucks to Iraq in 2002-2003.

Moscow Leases Kazan-Produced Tu-214
The Kazanskoe Aviatsionnoe Proizvodstvennoe Obyedinenie (KAPO) will soon lease a Tu-214 passenger plane to the Gosudarstvennaya Transportnaya Kompaniya Rossiya (state transport company Rossiya -- GTK) that is to be used by Russian President Vladimir Putin, reported on 14 August. GTK leased two Tatarstan-made jets in March 2001 and signed in March 2002 another contract with KAPO to acquire two more airliners this year. The Russian Finance Ministry is to allocate 750 million rubles ($23.8 million) in 2002 and 825 million rubles ($26.1 million) in the first three months of 2003 for the project. The total cost of the project is 8 billion rubles ($253.7 million). A total of 10 KAPO-made jets will be leased by GTK through 2007. The plane, which can seat 210 and fly 7,200 kilometers at a speed of 900-950 kilometers per hour, costs about $30 million.

Meanwhile, speaking in Kazan at the opening of the exhibition "Aerospace Technologies and Equipment" on 14 August, Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said, "All aviation in Russia will in the future consist only of 'Tu' jets."

Number Of Unprofitable Companies Grows
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said the percentage of unprofitable companies reached 40.9 percent in May while a year ago it totaled 30.9 percent, reported on 14 August. Minnikhanov was speaking at a government meeting devoted to the republic's social and economic development. Minnikhanov criticized the Economy and Industry Ministry and the Bankruptcy Committee for "work that can hardly be called satisfactory." He said the growth in the number of unprofitable companies has resulted in a 3 billion ruble ($95.1 million) loss for the republic's economy in the first six months of the year. Minnikhanov called for a lessening in the number of unprofitable companies.

Automated System To Monitor Public Transport Presented In Kazan
An automated system for monitoring public transport was presented on 15 August at Kazan's Gorelektrotransport company headquarters, reported. The system, which is produced in Kaluga, will be introduced in time for celebrations marking Kazan's millennium in 2005. Bus, trolley bus, and tram drivers will be given the ability to communicate with dispatchers and to monitor the number of passengers and other technical things.

GTRK 'Tatarstan' Retains Property Decreed To Be Given To Center
Property belonging to Tatarstan's television and radio company GTRK Tatarstan, along with television and radio facilities in Bashkortostan, Sakha (Yakutia), Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the Tomsk and Orenburg oblasts, has still not been given to the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRS), as was established a year ago by a Russian presidential decree, RIA-Novosti cited reported on 14 August, citing RTRS General Director Gennadii Sklyar. Sklyar said that RTRS is not responsible for the transmission of television and radio signals on those territories. He also said 80 percent of the transmitting facilities in Russia's regions that became RTRS property a year ago are completely out of date, adding that RTRS relies solely on the state budget as "the issue of RTRS becoming a joint-stock company is not on the agenda."

ZMA Plans To Produce 100,000 Minicars Annually
KamAZ's Zavod Mikrolitrazhnykh Avtomobilei (ZMA) plans to increase production of Oka minicars over the coming years to an eventual total of 100,000 a year, reported on 13 August citing the company's press service. KamAZ Deputy General Director Vasil Kayumov said such an achievement will allow the holding to join an international club of automobile producers. Capacities are currently being created at ZMA to produce 75,000 vehicles a year. The plant, which employs 2,500 workers, plans to assemble 40,000 cars in 2002 and has already produced 24,000.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Muslim Leader Gives Seal Of Approval To October Census
In an interview with Bashinform on 14 August, the deputy chairman of the Central Muslim Religious Board of Russia, Ferit Salman, said that the October Russian census "does not contradict the principles of Islam...because it is for the benefit of Muslims and the state.... Participating in the census is the...duty [of all Muslims], just like praying five times a day."

In the interview, Salman declared himself the supreme mufti of Tatarstan's Muslim board, though the republic's Muslims are united under the chairman of the Tatar Muslim Religious Board, Gusman Iskhakov. Salman, the former head of the Bolgar mosque in Kazan, was removed from his position for opposing the republic's Muslim board in 2000 and for urging it to submit to the Central Muslim Religious Board of Russia (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 29 May 2002).

Yabloko Leader: Rights Violations Taking Place In Bashkortostan
Artur Astafiev, head of the Bashkir branch of the Yabloko party, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 14 August that a number of rights violations are being committed in the republic, for example, that, "The [Bashkir] government, led by President [Murtaza] Rakhimov, is so authoritarian that even the collection of donations for the families of those killed in the 1 July [mid-air collision involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet and a DHL cargo jet] has been made obligatory for the employees of all [state] organizations in the republic." Astafiev said that donations are made in accordance with lists of all employees, adding that managers have been strictly monitoring contributions. He then said that in light of the prevalence of rights violations by local authorities, "This allows one to expect violations during the coming national census in Bashkortostan, since the [republic's] government is interested in increasing Bashkir population figures."

Bashkir Airlines Announces Losses From Crash In Germany...
The general director of Bashkir Airlines, Nikolai Odegov, told a press conference in Ufa on 14 August that the 1 July collision involving a Tupolev 154 passenger jet from his airline and a DHL cargo jet over southern Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002) has cost Bashkir Airlines about $50 million in damages, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Odegov added that, though the investigation is still incomplete, his company is convinced that, "Swiss air-traffic controllers are to blame for the which [Bashkir Airlines] suffered major material, moral, and commercial losses." Odegov also warned of possible lawsuits against the Swiss air-traffic controllers "in case all issues are not settled through negotiations. And I think the relatives of those killed in the crash [may also file lawsuits]." The majority of the victims in the crash were children from Bashkortostan.

...As Crash Leads To Unspecified Amendments To Air-Traffic Rules
The Russian State Civil-Aviation Service plans to alter regulations regarding air transportation in the wake of the 1 July collision, Interfax reported on 14 August, citing a spokesperson for the service. The spokesperson did not specify what changes would be made, stressing only that no amendments would be made to the new federal rules on air traffic that are to enter into force on 1 January 2003. These new rules will reportedly redefine the state's monitoring functions with respect to air traffic.

State News Agency Gives Praise To Private Farms
Private farms in Bashkortostan currently own 19,224 head of cattle, or twice as many as republican collective farms own, Bashinform reported on 13 August, though the agency did not release any figures about the proportion of land privately owned versus that belonging to collective farms. The agency did, however, praise the fact that private farms own so many head of cattle, saying that rural residents are able to use the cattle to earn income comparable to what they would make on collective farms. Nonetheless, the agency admitted that the output of both private and collective farms in the republic is about the same as the output of collective farms only "10-15 years ago."

Dairy Companies Feeling Effects Of Decreased State Support
Bashkir state-owned dairy companies have purchased only 72.7 percent of the milk purchased last year with the end of the main milking season quickly approaching and little change expected in these figures, "Respublika Bashkortostan" reported on 14 August. The decreased purchasing of milk is likely a result of the cutting of state subsidies to companies in 2002, the paper wrote, adding that the companies do not have sufficient revenues themselves to purchase all the milk that dairy farms have available. In 2001, the government provided dairy companies with 80 million rubles ($2.54 million) in subsidies.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi