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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 26, 2002

26 November 2002
Budget Draft Reveals Legal Ambiguities In Tax Distribution
Tatarstan's State Council gathered for a special session on 25 November to discuss the draft republican budget for 2003 with Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and his cabinet, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 25 November. Before convening for plenary session and considering the governmental draft in the first reading, deputies concentrated on the future difficulties with the document, which will contain a 9.7 percent deficit of 2.4 billion rubles ($75.4 million).

State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin told the deputies that due to changes in the federal taxation system wherein the republic transfers most of its revenues to Moscow, Tatarstan will have to cut spending on many social-security programs. He also noted that under the requirements of local self-government reform currently being discussed by federal legislators, the draft republican budget was elaborated taking into consideration both republican and local self-government bodies.

Nevertheless, only villages and collective farms currently have local self-government in Tatarstan, while the regions and urban centers are governed by the republic's state bodies and officials appointed by the president. The new Tatar Constitution adopted earlier this year provides for all state bodies to be replaced by the local self-governments to be abolished only after their current term expires in 2004.

Mukhametshin emphasized that "local self-government reform is proceeding in Russia, but it has not yet been approved by the State Duma." He continued: "There is still no legal mechanism for distributing tax revenues between the federal center, the regions, and local self-government bodies. Tatarstan's State Council may only recommend the regional administrations to allot a part of their funds to the local-self-government bodies. Only the federal budget can decide which tax revenues to attribute to them." The federal 2003 budget reportedly does not assign anything to local budgets, because in December 2002 the State Duma will consider a draft law on general principles of organization of local self-government bodies that will finally clear up the situation with budget revenues.

Shaimiev Meets Libyan Delegation
A delegation of Libyan officials led by air-defense commander General al-Rifi arrived in Kazan on 25 November for a closed-door meeting with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Although General al-Rifi refused to comment on the purpose of the talks, government press-service officials told an RFE/RL correspondent that Libya was interested in Tatarstan-produced Tu-214 airliners and helicopters. Shaimiev reportedly assured the delegation that his republic has always been eager to take an active part in the Russia-Libya cooperation in both civil and military industries. A delegation from the Kazan Aircraft Plant already visited the country in February 2002 to discuss the possible purchase of their Tu-214s and hold test flights. The company is also ready to offer its services for repairing former Soviet military aircraft, such as the Tu-160s and Tu-22s used by the Libyan Air Force.

Price Of Tatar Oil To Fall
Transneft, which transports Tatarstan's oil to Russian oil refineries and abroad, introduced quality-control sanctions against Tatneft beginning from July 2002, Intertat reported on 25 November. The new requirements, part of the oil-quality bank being introduced in Russia, say that oil exported from Tatarstan should not contain more than 100 milligrams of salt per liter. The oil company is reportedly unlikely to afford the purchase of oil-purifying equipment for meeting this requirement, so it means lower prices for Tatarstan's oil in the future.

Tatar presidential advisor on oil and gas extraction Rinat Muslimov told the agency that Tatarstan is preparing to construct a high-sulfur-oil-processing plant with the help of the American Exxon corporation in Nurlat to deal with the problem.

World Tatar Congress Criticizes Cyrillic-Only Bill
Rinat Zakirov, chief executive of World Tatar Congress, sent an official statement to the State Duma on 25 November protesting the amendment to the law on peoples' languages adopted on 15 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 November 2002). The statement said that by requiring the ethnic republics to use only Cyrillic alphabets for expressing their languages, federal legislators were infringing on the rights of the Republic of Tatarstan, which chose to revive the Latin-based Tatar script in 1999.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov, Putin Discuss Census, Harvest
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 25 November to discuss the socioeconomic situation in Bashkortostan, Interfax reported the same day, citing Putin's press secretary, Aleksei Gromov. Rakhimov said following the meeting that he told Putin about the results of the recent census in Bashkortostan, according to the preliminary results of which the republic's population has increased by 200,000 since the last census in 1989. Rakhimov also told Putin that the republic collected a record harvest of 4.5 million tons of wheat this year, Interfax reported.

Speaker Says True Parliamentary Republic Impossible In Russia
Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev told Interfax-Eurasia on 25 November that the parliament's Legislation Committee would decide on 27 November what sort of draft constitution -- whether promoting a parliamentary or presidential system of government -- to present to the parliament for its first reading the next day. The State Assembly decided to postpone debate on the draft constitution during its 13 November session (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 November 2002).

Tolkachev added that a true parliamentary republic is actually currently impossible under Russian legislation, though he said that, nonetheless, he thought that the future of federal-regional relations would involve a parliamentary system. Tolkachev also said that whichever system is chosen, a new constitution will be adopted by the end of the year, three months before the next elections to the State Assembly scheduled for March.

Bashkortostan Seventh Among Donor Regions
Bashkortostan ranked seventh among regions providing revenues to the federal budget during the first nine months of 2002, Bashinform reported on 25 November. The republic, which transferred 2.6 percent of all federal-budget revenues, followed Moscow at 22.9 percent, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug at 10.4 percent, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug at 4.7 percent, Moscow Oblast and St. Petersburg at 3.8 percent each, Samara Oblast at 2.9 percent, and Tatarstan at 2.7 percent.

Republic Establishes Chamber Of Lawyers
A republican Chamber of Lawyers was established at a conference of the republic's Union of Lawyers on 22 November, RosBalt reported on 25 November. The chamber was set up to meet the requirements of the federal law on the activities of lawyers and federal bar regulations. Representatives of the Union of Lawyers said that the chamber is aiming to unite about 900 lawyers in the republic, the agency reported. In addition to the chamber itself, the conference also elected a chamber council consisting of 46 members and a qualification commission with 33 members.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova