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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 24, 2002

24 October 2002
President Urges Detailed Approach To Local Self-Government Reform
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev joined the Russian State Council session on 23 October in Moscow, discussing the draft local self-government reform, chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 October. After the Russian leader's speech promoting the draft law, Shaimiev told Russian state RTR television: "As long as the draft doesn't stipulate the funding sources for the local self-government bodies, we are destined to criticize this new law just as we did the old one. In most of the cases, these bodies are not self-sufficient and need support from the federal or regional budgets."

Finance Minister: Tax Collection Up, Tatarstan's Budget Income Down
Tatar Finance Minister Radik Gyizatullin told the governmental meeting on 23 October that the republic's draft budget for 2003 has been formed based on a planned world oil price at $20 per barrel and the ruble exchange rate at 34 rubles per dollar, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 October. According to Gyizatullin's forecast, Tatarstan's gross regional product is to increase by 3.2 percent and its industrial output is to grow by 3.1 percent, while the average worker's salary is to soar by 20 percent, reaching 4,650 rubles ($146.2 according to the current exchange rate). He said up to one-third of Tatarstan's budget income will be received from the federal budget due to the recent changes in Russian tax laws, while the total budget is estimated at 26.9 billion rubles ($845.9 million), which is 2.2 billion ($69.2 million) lower than this year.

Meanwhile, the republican government has received 23.3 billion rubles ($732.7 million) of tax revenues so far in 2002, which represents 97 percent of last year's amount, while 22.2 billion ($698 million) have already been transferred to Moscow. Tatarstan's tax collectors reportedly have raised 45.5 billion rubles ($1.43 billion) this year, exceeding the year-on-year amount by 27.8 percent.

Prime Minister Urges Crackdown On Tax Evaders
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told the same governmental meeting that this year "didn't turn out well" for Tatarstan, as the sum of back wages owed reached 824 million rubles ($25.9 million) and for the first time in the republic's modern history some 30 percent of its budget revenues were to be received from the federal budget, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 October. He said that the 10 percent cut in republican budget expenses introduced this year "did not bring the expected effect" and there were problems with collecting the property and sales taxes. Minnikhanov called on the responsible governmental bodies to crack down on tax evaders and inspect the businesses currently benefiting from tax recessions within one month.

Government Speeds Up Housing Reform
Tatar Minister of Construction, Architecture, and Housin Marat Khosnullin said in his report at the same meeting that the housing sector "was the only sphere of life still running on the socialist rails" in Russia and was has so far undergone only slight reforms, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 October. He said that both federal and republican budgets provided only 50 percent of the planned transfers to the housing sector in 2002 and therefore his ministry "decided to speed up the reforming process."

Khosnullin asserted that "if this year residents paid for 80 percent of their housing services, in 2003 they will have to cover as much as 90 percent." He noted that in exchange, the government will introduce personalized state subsidies to the needy, who will have to declare their income in order to get such payments.

Statistics Committee Official Comments Of Census-Related Complaints From Residents
Olga Semenova, head of the census and demography department at Tatarstan's State Statistics Committee, told Intertat on 23 October that "many of the residents' complaints, reporting the census takers as filling in the questionnaires with pencils or not using the official blanks, were explained by the fact that many of the residents mixed up the preliminary inspection before the census and the census itself."

Exiled Former Soviet Chemist Turned Away By Kazan Customs
The Kazan branch of the federal Customs Service prevented Vil Mirzayanov, a former Soviet chemist and now a U.S. citizen, from crossing the Russian border in Kazan International Airport after arriving on a Lufthansa flight from New York on 22 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 October. Mirzayanov planned to hold a presentation of his autobiography "The Challenge" in the Tatar capital on 24-25 October, but Customs reportedly rejected Mirzayanov's tourist visa, arranged through one of the tourist companies in Moscow, because it stipulated Moscow as the only place of stay.

After leaving on 23 October, Mirzayanov's and his wife's documents were returned to them in Frankfurt, Germany. Having discovered that his Russian visa was missing, Mirzayanov addressed Kazan customs, which replied by saying, "Vil Mirzayanov is restricted from entering the territory of the Russian Federation."

In Mirzayanov's opinion, this was because his new book refers to more than 30 classified documents related to the production and stockpiling of chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union. He added that he was glad, that he "was not arrested in Kazan airport."

Earlier this year Mirzayanov visited Tatarstan to hold a press conference promoting Tatarstan's independence and to meet with Tatar intelligentsia. He also published articles in the local "Zvezda Povolzhya" weekly and "Shehri Qazan" daily urging the abolishment of Tatarstan's "colonial status" within Russia and speaking for the creation of a "true federation."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Federal Agriculture Minister To Visit Bashkortostan
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev plans to visit Bashkortostan on 24 October, Interfax reported the previous day. Gordeev is expected to take part in a republican meeting of agriculture-sector workers and to take part in a ceremony marking the opening of a new cattle-breeding facility at the Alekseevskoe farm.

Bashkir Agriculture Minister Grigorii Gorobets told Bashinform on 23 October that 4.5 million tons of grain were harvested in the republic this year, an increase of more than 1 million tons compared to the previous year, which marked the largest harvest of the past decade.

Bashkortostan is home to about 1,000 large and medium-sized farms, as well as more than 4,000 individually owned farms, which were responsible for about 350,000 tons of the grain harvest.

Bashkir Society Meets In Chally, Discusses National Education
About 250 ethnically Bashkir residents of Chally took part in celebrations devoted to the 10th anniversary of the Chally-based Bashkir Society on 20 October, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported on 23 October. A delegation from Bashkortostan, including World Bashkir Congress leader Ekhmet Soleimanov, was in attendance.

During a roundtable discussion involving officials from the Chally city administration, Soleimanov said that Bashkir residents of Chally face troubles in educating their children because of a lack of Bashkir schools in the city, while in Ufa, the number of Tatar schools is growing, Soleimanov said.

The head of Chally Board of Education's Department of National Education, Vener Kharisov, said work on establishing Bashkir schools is ongoing, and he added that three Bashkir Sunday schools have already been opened in the city. Kharisov said that, though there are no obstacles to beginning Bashkir classes in Chally, it is difficult to find enough Bashkir children to fill them. For example, in the only Bashkir class at School No. 49, there are only eight Bashkir children, while the parents of Bashkir children do not want them to attend such classes, Kharisov said.

Kharisov called on Chally's Bashkir Society to work with Bashkir families on this issue, and he passed to the leaders of the organization a list of the names of 600 Bashkir schoolchildren living in Chally. Kharisov added that he plans to visit Tatar schools in Ufa, but when he asked those visiting from Bashkortostan to provide a list of such schools, they failed to do so, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova