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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 17, 2002

17 September 2002
Gazprom Temporarily Increases Gas Supplies To Tatarstan
Russian monopoly Gazprom agreed to provide Tatarstan with an unspecified amount of additional gas supplies for September, Tatar-inform reported on 16 September. The agency quoted Vladimir Shelokov, chief engineer at Tatenergo, as saying the extra gas supplies have allowed Tatarstan's power plants to increase output without using pricier and less ecological fuel oil (mazut). Shelokov also said that by 1 January, Gazprom will launch new gas pipelines in the Western regions of Tatarstan. Low winter temperatures have in previous years resulted in blockages of the narrow pipes currently in use, leaving thousands of rural residences without heating.

Government Discusses Ways To Increase Exports
Tatarstan Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Khafiz Salikhov told a government meeting on 16 September that since the adoption of a three-year program aimed at export-oriented industries in 1999, the republic has increased the share of exports in its gross regional product to 27 percent, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Machinery as a share of exports has reached 16 percent, while in 1998 this figure was reported to be 8.2 percent.

First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Moratov countered the report by saying that Tatarstan has so far attracted the lowest level of investment in the Volga Federal District, adding that the "absence of direct partners has compromised the republic's industrial development."

Trade Minister Salikhov recommended that sweeteners for foreign direct investors be added to the current program, including republican guarantees to cover commercial risks. He also added that, in light of Russia's expected entry to the World Trade Organization, Tatarstan has an "unacceptably small number of ventures" that have received international quality certificates.

Kazan Helicopter Plant Peddles Wares In Ukraine, South Africa
Kazan's helicopter manufacturer, KVZ, is currently presenting its machines at the Aviasvit international trade fair in Kyiv, Tatar-inform reported. On 18 September, the plant will take part in the African Airspace and Defense-2002 fair in Pretoria. KVZ is presenting models of a range of modified Mi-17 and Mi-38 helicopters, a joint project with specialists from Moscow's helicopter plant and the Eurocopter concern.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Speaker Promotes Role Of Capital Punishment...
Speaking at a press conference on 16 September, Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev said that he is against the abolishment of capital punishment. "It is demagoguery to say that capital punishment does not resolve problems.... Under the conditions of an unstable society, fighting criminals has never been successful," Tolkachev said. "Fear is a strong influence on a person's behavior and [the authorities] should use [that influence] for the welfare of society. Though it is not a very humane measure, capital punishment can be used to defend the life, honor, and dignity of most of society. This applies to those criminals who cannot be rehabilitated in the existing correctional system," Tolkachev said. The Bashkir speaker added that, "Germany, Great Britain, and France used capital punishment in the past when those countries had the same level of criminality as [exists in Russia today]." Tolkachev also criticized the demand that Russia abolish capital punishment as a condition for joining the Council of Europe.

...Comments On Power-Sharing Treaty With Moscow
At the same press conference, Tolkachev also commented on possible amendments to Bashkortostan's power-sharing treaty with the Russian Federation, saying that the amendments will constitute a new treaty that can be signed by the end of the year (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 September 2002), Bashinform reported on 16 September. The Bashkir legislative speaker added that the republic plans to defend the treaty, since Moscow "doesn't show any goodwill in treaty-based relations."

Tolkachev said that, though the amendments were approved by Bashkir lawyers, certain "subjective" factors have hindered the adoption of a new treaty. For example, he said the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitrii Kozak, had suggested some further changes to the certain provisions of the new draft treaty. Tolkachev also said that certain political rather than legal issues still had to be resolved (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 September 2002). Tolkachev said the proposed new treaty doesn't include the concept of Bashkir citizenship since it contradicts a ruling of the Russian Constitutional Court. According to the draft, the republic will also no longer have exclusive access to its natural resources.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova