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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 20, 2002

20 August 2002
Kazan Holds Final Preparations For Congress
Delegates elected to the third World Tatar Congress, to be held on 28-29 August, have already begun arriving in Tatarstan's capital, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 19 August. A total of some 560 delegates representing 122 Tatar communities in Russia, the CIS, and farther abroad are to join the forum, and Kazan's city administration devoted its 19 August meeting to preparations for the international event. Mayor Kamil Iskhakov told his subordinates during the meeting that "Kazan has to be shining" by 28 August, even though its historical center is currently in a devastated state, since many of the old buildings are being demolished because of unaffordable repair costs.

It was agreed during the meeting that the city government would purchase special billboards to hide most of the worst sights and order the owners of local hotels hosting congress delegates to provide their guests with "special care."

Government Discusses Preparations For Census
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told reporters after chairing the 19 August meeting of the republic's commission for preparing and holding the national census in Tatarstan that, in his opinion, "there will be no serious problems with the census," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. According to Tatarstan's State Statistics Committee Chairman Valerii Kandilov at the meeting, 90 percent of census data-collection centers have already found locations and are now being equipped with computers and security systems, but none of them currently have access to the telephone network. Minnikhanov assured Kandilov that Tatarstan will provide the census offices with telephones. Fifteen thousand people are to be hired by the state for gathering and processing the census data over two weeks in October.

Tatar Official Says Tax Reform 'Tragic' For Road-Maintenance Services
Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Vladimir Shvetsov told reporters on 19 August that the new Russian Tax Code in force this year brought "tragic changes" to the country's road-maintenance services, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day.

"The new system of tax collection caused a 40 percent decline of road funds in Russia, from 210 billion rubles ($6.7 billion) in 2001 to 135 billion ($4.3 billion) this year," Shvetsov said. As a result, Shvetsov's ministry will reportedly reduce the construction of new roads in Tatarstan annually by 80 percent, so that in 2003 each region in the republic would get an average of only 3 kilometers of new roads.

Shvetsov also added that the federal highways to be funded by Moscow are currently underfinanced, with repair programs getting 7-8 percent of estimated expenses and dues totaling some 900 million rubles ($28.6 million).

Dalavia Director Critical Of Kazan-Produced Aircraft...
The 19 August issue of "Kommersant" daily quoted Pavel Sevastianov, general director of the Dalavia air company, as sharply criticizing the Tu-214 aircraft produced by Kazanskoe Aviatsionnoe Proizvodstvennoe Obyedinenie (KAPO), which his company has leased from the Finansovaya Lizingovaya Kompaniya in 2001. Sevastianov said ironically during the 16 August roundtable on the problems of Russian air companies held during the "Civil aviation-2002" air show in Domodedovo airport, Moscow, that "this fine aircraft brought my company only losses" because of the constant need to repair it. Sevastianov's opinion may be considered especially important for future marketing of Tu-214's in Russia, because so far Dalavia has been the only air company using it.

Meanwhile, according to "Kommersant," Sevastianov's colleagues from Russia's major air companies were critical of all of the new aircraft offered by domestic aircraft makers.

...As KAPO Plans To Expand Production
KAPO is planning certification flights for its Tu-214D aircraft, Tatnews reported on 19 August. The new craft, which is a long-distance modification of the Tu-214, possesses reduced passenger capacity comparing to the basic model -- 150 seats instead of 210-214 -- and increased fuel reserves.

The agency also quoted Valerii Mikhailov, chief commander of Russian Air Force, who said on 18 August that "next year the air force will get new machines, [which are] the multipurpose Su-30 destroyer and the cargo modification of the Tu-214 aircraft." KAPO is reportedly ready to launch the assembly of the Tu-214F cargo aircraft. The base model of the Tu-214 costs $25 million and its modifications will be slightly more expensive, the agency said.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Congress Meets With Public Figures, Key Officials To Discuss Preparations For Census
World Bashkir Congress (BBK) leader Ekhmet Suleimanov is touring northwest Bashkortostan to discuss preparations for the October census, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 19 August. Suleimanov is meeting with local branch leaders of the congress and regional leaders to seek ways to "ensure the correct reporting of Bashkortostan population figures" in the census.

Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress, criticized by the local Tatar rights movement for being loyal to the Bashkir government, has been inactive in the preparations. The head of the Tatar Public Center branch in Bashkortostan, Airat Giniyatullin, told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent the same day that, in his opinion, the local Tatar Congress office has, "through its inertness, contributed to the government's census-related campaign, which aims to report the Bashkirs as the second-largest population in the republic" while, according to the 1989 census, this place is occupied by Tatars.

Tatar Scholar In Bashkortostan Criticizes The 'Politic-Free' Agenda Of The World Tatar Forum
Ildus Fuazetdinov, Tatar philology researcher from Bashkir State University, told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 19 August that the Tatar community in his republic was "distressed by the fact that the World Tatar Congress forum [to be held on 28-29 August] will not hold a special roundtable devoted to ethnic policies in Russia as a whole and in Russia's regions." He said that the congress "seemed to be avoiding political issues, trying to concentrate on cultural and economic affairs." Fuazetdinov added that "since 75 percent of Tatars live outside of their republic, why is there no roundtable planned for discussing the life of Tatars outside Tatarsan?" In his opinion, "otherwise, subethnic groups within the Tatar nation would be easier to split."

Government Halts Privatization Of Ufa International Airport
Bashkortostan's Ministry of Economy and antimonopoly industry has decided against its earlier plans to privatize Ufa International Airport, Rosbalt agency reported on 19 August, citing the airport's general director, Wilhelm Kapp. He tried to explain this move by saying that if privatization was undertaken, Bashkortostan's government would still remain the owner of the airport and therefore the transition would make no sense. Kapp also added that the privatization would "contradict the currently emerging trend towards the creation of state-owned, interregional airport-based holding companies."

UralSibBank Boasts Surging Private Investments
UralSibBank of Bashkortostan managed to increase the amount of deposits from individuals by 80 percent, to a total of more than 7 billion rubles, AROMI reported on 19 August. Some 900,000 people currently keep their money in UralSibBank, in which Bashkortostan's government owns the controlling stock. However, only 1 million rubles ($317,000) of private investments have so far been gained by the bank's affiliates in Kemerovo Autonomous Okrug, Udmurtia Republic, Chelyabinsk and Kaliningrad oblasts.

Bashkir Airlines Bears High Hopes For This Year
Bashkir Airlines (BA) officials told Rosbalt on 20 August that they plan this year to outpace the current leader, the Samara air company, and become the major air transporter in the Volga Federal District. During the first six months of 2002, BA achieved a 10 to 11 percent increase in civil and cargo transportation volume, the agency reported. BA announced its plans to expand cooperation with corporate customers, a decision that may be explained by the likely loss of private travelers since the tragic 1 July collision of BA and DHL jets.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi