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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 23, 2002

23 October 2002
Federal Lawmaker Raises Issue Of Changes To Census Questions
A Russian State Duma deputy from Tatarstan, Fendes Safiullin, has filed a parliamentary query with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov concerning changes made to the questionnaires used in the recent national census, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 23 October. At a press conference in Kazan on 22 October, Safiullin claimed that the officially approved questionnaires had a question concerning an individual's native language, as well as whether he or she knew Russian or any other languages. During the census itself, however, Safiullin said that census takers asked only whether an individual had a fluent command of Russian or any other languages. Safiullin claimed that the change of census questionnaires was to prepare for the administrative and territorial redivision of Russian regions and to abolish ethnic republics.

An official from the Russian State Statistics committee, Aleksandr Goncharov, said, however, that, although the question on a person's native language had been removed from the census questionnaire, the census takers still asked it, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 23 October. The paper commented that this posed a legal problem, since census takers are obliged to ask only the questions that are written in the official questionnaire.

Moscow Investing In Bashkir, Tatar Economies
The Russian government's working group on budgetary relations has adopted its 2003 budget for the State Fund for Regional Development, allotting 11.26 billion rubles ($354) to finance a program for socioeconomic development in Tatarstan and 7.35 billion rubles to finance a similar program in Bashkortostan, AK&M news agency reported on 22 October. According to an agreement signed last year between Moscow and the two republics, similar transfers will be made every year from 2002 through 2006 to increase economic activity in the republics and thus to increase tax revenues paid into the federal budget.

The working group also announced that since both republics are also so-called "donor regions," they are not eligible for government subsidies from the State Fund for the Support of Subjects of the Federation. Also among the donor regions are Orenburg, Perm, Samara, Sverdlovsk, and Tyumen oblasts; Khanti-Mansiiskii and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrugs; and Krasnoyarsk Krai.

Shaimiev Meets With New Turkish Consul-General
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev met with the newly appointed consul-general of Turkey in Kazan, Ismail Sefa Yujeer, on 22 October to discuss increasing economic and cultural cooperation within the framework of verbal agreements reached during Shaimiev's meeting with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in Ankara on 4 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 23 October.

During the 22 October meeting, Yujeer said that Tatarstan and Turkey could cooperate in the construction sphere, as well as in the development of small and medium-sized businesses. The new consul-general also expressed Turkish interest in purchasing petroleum products from Tatarstan.

Tatar-Belarusian Joint Venture Produces First Tractor
The first Belarus-1221 tractor assembled by the YelAZ-Minsk Tractor Plant joint venture rolled off the conveyor in Alabuga, Tatarstan, on 22 October, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported on 23 October. The venture plans to produce 120 tractors by the end of this year and eventually to increase its output to 5,000 tractors annually.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Government Sells Two Sugar Plants
The Bashkir Property Ministry announced the previous week its plan to sell state-owned stakes in the republic's two largest sugar plants, Raevskii and Chishminskii, "Vedomosti" reported on 22 October. The Chishminskii plant, one of Russia's three leading sugar facilities, produced some 40,000 tons of sugar in 2001, while the Raevskii plant manufactured some 24,700 tons. A total of 1.5 million tons of sugar is produced in Russia each year. According to the International Sugar Company, there are 93 sugar plants in Russia, and only about 10 of them are not supervised by Russia's large sugar traders.

At an auction slated for 14 November, the Bashkir Property Ministry plans to sell 54 percent of shares in the Raevskii sugar plant for 65.83 million rubles and 46.67 percent of shares in the Chishminskii sugar plant for 72.903 million rubles, the daily said. The ministry, which currently owns a 73-percent stake in the Chishminskii plant and 90-percent in the Raevskii facility, plans to maintain blocking stakes in the two companies, the daily reported citing a source in the republican Property Ministry.

Prodimeks General Director Igor Khudokormov told the daily that his company will take part in the auction, and so did Marina Golovanova, the general director of Rusagro. The paper cited an unidentified representative of the United Foodstuff Company as saying that the Bashkir plants are attractive because "there are no more similarly independent good plants in Russia."

Government Body Formed To Prepare For WTO Entry
The Bashkir government established the interdepartmental Council on Issues of Economic Development in Conditions of Entry into the World Trade Organization, headed by Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov, the presidential press service reported on 22 October. The main aim of the body is to provide the stable functioning of Bashkortostan's economy during Russia's admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO). All ministries and departments in the republic were charged with setting up their own commission on preparations for work after the entry into the WTO and to develop measures required to overcome problems they face following such an entry.

Unified Russia's Bashkir Leadership Lauds Power Reform
Unified Russia in Bashkortostan leader Mansur Eyupov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 22 October that the "parliamentary republic fits for our republic. Bashkortostan is a large republic, with many cities, raions, villages, and big territory. A parliamentary republic would provide better possibilities to meet the interests of the raions and villages, as well as of the numerous peoples living in the republic," Eyupov said. He added that switching to a parliamentary republic is in line with the general trend of Russia's political course.

Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov recently initiated the abolishment of the post of president and the establishment of a parliamentary republic in Bashkortostan (see "Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 and 21 October 2002).

Census Takers Get Compensation For Injuries During Poll
About 10 of some 13,200 census takers in Bashkortostan who were insured from accidents during the census will be paid 5,000-ruble insurance compensations, Tagir Farakhov, the director of the Ufa affiliate of the Military-Insurance Company, told Bashinform on 22 October. The majority of them were bitten by dogs, several others were injured in road accidents, and two people fell and hurt themselves in dark streets.

Income Up, As Well As Back Wages
Average wages grew by 18.2 percent while the monetary income of the population increased by 12.1 percent in the first seven months of the year in the republic, Bashkir Labor and Social Policy Minister Lev Bakusov said on 22 October, Bashinform reported the same day. Over the past 12 years, Bashkortostan moved from the 66th to the 24th position among leading regions in terms of average monetary income per capita. However, wage arrears grew by 60 percent in the first nine months of the year to 1.2 billion rubles, the minister said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova