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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 22, 2001

22 November 2001
Gryzlov Holds Police Chiefs Meeting In Kazan...
Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov chaired a meeting of Volga, Ural, and South federal district police chiefs on 21 November in Kazan, RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported. Gryzlov urged law-enforcement bodies "to promote the image and authority of police officers among the population." He also said police should "register all crimes committed" rather than avoid reporting such activities to lower crime statistics.

...And Praises Tatarstan Police
Later that day, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev and Gryzlov had a closed-door meeting, after which Minister Gryzlov told reporters that Tatarstan's law-enforcement officers "enjoyed strong social support from the republican government...demonstrated by next year's draft budget." Gryzlov conceded, "There are some issues in which Tatarstan has done more than the federal [government], for example in the field of information technology, which has significantly increased the efficiency of interior bodies."

Gryzlov Comments On Moscow's Plans In Chechnya
Russian Interior Minister Gryzlov said that his ministry plans to establish permanent militia departments in Chechnya in 2002 that would employ local residents and Russian military servicemen with contractual obligations.

Gryzlov also said that Russian law-enforcement officers will get a 40 percent pay hike from 2002.

Deputies Pass State Budget In The First Reading
Despite predictions by Tatarstan's media, the State Council did not debate a list of amendments to the republican constitution during its 21 November session.

According to the presidential draft budget for 2002, passed by deputies in its first reading, future budget revenues were estimated based on a price of $20 per barrel for Tatarstan supplies. Budget expenditures will exceed revenues by some 2.292 billion rubles ($76.6 million) and total 38.872 billion ($2.562 billion).

Finance Minister Says Tatarstan Will Cope With Next Year's Financial Difficulties
Finance Minister Robert Musin, presenting the 2002 draft budget to the State Assembly, told deputies that "beginning in 2002, when recent changes in federal tax legislation take force, Tatarstan's budget will suffer serious losses." But, he added, "I'm sure that our people will receive the necessary subsides in time."

He admitted that, "If [world] oil prices drop lower than $15 per barrel, our republic will face hardships, but they will be solved."

Musin added that amid current tax cuts and a simultaneous salary hike to state employees, those who composed the draft budget sought a delicate balance between "collapsing budget revenues and growing budget expenditures."

Chistay School Introduces Extra Russian Lessons To 'Compensate' For Tatar Language Classes
The Vostok watch-making plant in Chistay funds extra lessons in Russian language and literature for the pupils of a local school, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported on 21 November. According to the school's principle, children possess weak Russian speaking and writing skills, making it difficult to remember any of the poems by famous Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin rather than the lyrics of Russian pop songs. Although Tatar and Russian are taught in equal amounts, the school principle and the Russian teacher say pupils "are distracted by having to learn Tatar extensively." Meanwhile, all instruction aside from Tatar language lessons are taught in Russian.

Power Outages To Affect Prisons And Elmet Companies
Tatenergo representatives told Efir-Inform on 21 November that customer debts totaled about 2 billion rubles ($66.8 million) and, beginning from 22 November, the company will interrupt power supplies to encourage repayment. Tatarstan's prisons and 20 major corporate debtors in the Elmet region have received warnings from the republic's energy-monitoring body.

Tax Police Boost Tax Receipts
Some 40.2 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) in taxes have been collected in Tatarstan so far in 2001, Tatar-inform reported on 21 November. Some 33 percent of the sum collected have been transferred to the federal budget, while the rest has been divided between the republican and local budgets in Tatarstan. Tax Police had to intervene in the payment of 40 percent of taxes, while the other 60 percent were paid voluntarily.

Refugees To Receive Free Legal Counsel In Kazan
The Russian Red Cross, sponsored by the UN High Commissioner, opened a free legal-counseling center for refugees in Kazan on 20 November.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Continues Rhetoric To Maintain Treaty-Based Relations
In an interview published in "Vek" on 16 November, President Murtaza Rakhimov said treaty-based relations between Moscow and the republic "maintain their historical importance," adding that the treaty cannot be abolished unilaterally. He said attempts to revise such fundamental documents destabilize the country. Rakhimov stressed, however, that Bashkortostan's self-dependence does not mean isolation from the federation. Citing the coordinating role of the federal center in the country, he criticized the "economically unfounded" construction in some federation members of expensive oil-processing plants while existing facilities in other regions remain idle.

Unity, Fatherland In Bashkortostan Hold Uniting Conference
An inaugural conference of the Union of Unity and Fatherland in Bashkortostan on 22 November is due to discuss a draft charter and program for a new Russia-wide political party, Unity and Fatherland, Bashinform reported on 21 November. The meeting is electing delegates for an extraordinary congress of the Union of Unity and Fatherland scheduled for 1 December in Moscow. The Unity and Fatherland organizations will be represented at the Bashkortostan conference by 100 members each, while 30 All Russia members will also take part in the forum. Twenty-two members of Fatherland in Bashkortostan, headed by Duma Deputy Rim Bakiev, will also join a congress on 1 December in Moscow to discuss its merger with Unity and All Russia into a single party. Rustam Akhmadinurov, the deputy head of Fatherland in Bashkortostan, told Bashinform that the creation of a new united party will not lead to the automatic liquidation of Fatherland.

Academician Seeks To Form New Deputies Group In Duma
The president of Bashkortostan's Academy of Sciences, Robert Nigmatulin, told Bashinform on 21 November that he is skeptical about existing parties like Fatherland, Unity, or All Russia and their mergers. In his words, their programs offer little or nothing to people. Nigmatulin, who is also a Duma deputy, said he has initiated the establishment in the Duma of an inter-factional deputies group called Strategy for the Future.

Rakhimov Promotes Small Businesses
President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 21 November that the development of small businesses is the thrust of republican economic reforms, the presidential press service reported. His comments came at the opening ceremony of the Businessman-2001 exhibition in Ufa. Rakhimov said the republic has the third-highest number of small businesses in the Volga federal district as a result of a fivefold increase in the past decade.

Bashkirs In Kurgan, Orenburg Oblasts To Hold Congresses
A delegation of the World Bashkirs Congress visited Kurgan Oblast to discuss with local authorities preparations for a congressional forum in the oblast in January, Bashinform reported on 21 November. Raion and city representatives of the Bashkir organization are holding meetings in advance of the forum. Similar work is being done in Orenburg Oblast, where the Bashkir Congress is due to gather in March.

Bashkortostan Dancers Perform In London
Bashkortostan's state dance ensemble is scheduled to perform in the London Royal Festival Hall on 21 November, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The tour is the first foreign trip by the troupe in the past decade.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova