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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 28, 2001

28 March 2001
Tatarstan's 'Popular Rule' Act Abolished
The republic government on 27 March abolished by decree Tatarstan's "On the foundations of popular rule" because its 1990 provisions were included in the 1992 Tatar Constitution, Raisa Saikhieva, the head of the legal department of the presidential staff, told She added that the republic's constitution will "soon have to be adjusted to the Russian one."

Tatenergo Rejects UES Demands for Payment
Officials at Tatenergo said on 27 March that the company rejects demands by UES to pay 1.8 billion rubles for using the networks of the latter from 1996 to 2000. They indicated that as of 1996, Tatenergo became a different company and did not "consumer a single kilowatt of power from UES after that time." And the officials said that Tatenergo had agreed to cover the expenses of a UES communications center only in exchange for shares.

Human Rights Head Says Per-Minute Phone Charges Violate Rights
Rashid Vagizov, the Tatarstan republic human rights commissioner, said in an interview published in "Vremya I dengi" on 28 March that per-minute telephone charges in part violate citizen's rights because there were as yet no reliable methods to check the exact length of conversations. But the republic supreme court recently rejected similar claims. Meanwhile, Kazan telephone company officials said that prices for service will remain relatively stable.

Tatar World Congress to Meet with Orenburg's Tatars
Executive Committee members of World Tatar Congress will meet the leadership of the Tatar ethnic-cultural autonomy organization in Russia in Orenburg on 29 March. The meeting will focus on "interaction between the Orenburg government and the local Tatar community."

Greek Consular Official Discusses Status of Greeks in Tatarstan
Greece's consul general in Moscow Alexandros Katranis met with Tatarstan's foreign affairs department director Timur Akulov on 27 March to discuss reviving Greek culture in the republic. Currently, there are approximately 200 ethnic Greek families in Tatarstan, many of whom are prominent business leaders.

Heavy Vehicles to Pay Special Tax
The Tatarstan government has introduced a special toll for all vehicles with a gross weight of more than nine tons. The new tax of 50 rubles a day and 500 rubles per ton of cargo is intended to replenish the road repair fund, officials said.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

SPS Seeks Dialogue with Ufa
The leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) branch in Bashkortostan Arsen Nurijanov told the Bashinform agency on 27 March that "we do not regard ourselves as an opposition to the republic authorities. We are pragmatic and thus we will assist the government in upgrading the life level of people." He added that his organization aimed on the constructive dialogue with all governmental bodies.

Accidents at Work Raising Concern
The chief labor safety inspector Valery Clementyev said in Ufa that "many firms have forgotten to work to improve safety,� Bashkirinform reported. He said that 2583 workers had been injured at work in 2000, only 85 fewer than in 1999. But 172 workers died from their injuries, 24 more than the year before. He said that these accidents were costing the Bashkir economy both directly and indirectly some 15 million rubles ($520,000).

Rising Drug Use Seen Behind HIV Increases
The Bashkir Ministry of Health on 27 March said that 125 more people tested positive for HIV in the last week alone. It said that in 70 percent of the cases, doctors were able to link the infection to drug use.

Floods Could Threaten Many Places
The emergencies ministry announced on 27 March that floods this spring appear likely to threaten 110 inhabited locations in the republic, including Ufa and other major cities.

Soviet Holiday Game Revived in Blagoveshchensk Schools
Schools in Blagoveshchensk have revived the Soviet-era military patriotic game of "Heat Lightning," giving children the chance to play soldier.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi