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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 4, 2001

4 December 2001
Opposition Deputy Demands Urgent Adoption Of New Tatar Constitution
During the 3 December session of Tatarstan's State Council, opposition deputy and Equality and Legality (RiZ) movement leader Aleksandr Shtanin urged President Mintimer Shaimiev to "hasten the adjustment of the republic's constitution to Russian laws," blaming the republican government for continuous "protraction" of the process. Shaimiev responded by saying, "I would advise your RiZ movement to finally choose its priorities." He noted that RiZ has sued the State Council for including regional administration heads, seeking the Council's dissolution and stating demands on bringing the Tatarstan Constitution into conformity with federal legislation. The Tatarstan president added that if the movement's legal challenge is successful, "There won't be any State Council to adopt the constitutional amendments." Shaimiev said numerous appeals by federal prosecutors and the courts against the constitution "prevented" deputies from effective work.

Budget Sails Through Second Reading
Tatarstan's State Council passed a draft republican budget in its second reading on 3 December. The document stipulates an expected oil price of $20 per barrel and concedes a possible deficit due price fluctuations on the world oil market.

Government Sums Up Results Of 2001...
President Shaimiev on 3 December held a meeting of top republican officials and regional, city administration heads to sum up economic results from 2001. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said in his report that, in general, Tatarstan managed to resume recovery in the industrial sector and its transition to a market economy. Shaimiev personally addressed each regional administration head to ask about the agricultural situation.

According to other statements at the meeting, the republic would preserve subsidies to state employees after the pay rise introduced by Moscow from 1 December.

...And Sets Tight Fiscal Agenda For 2002
President Shaimiev said during the same meeting that Tatarstan officials have to act in a new environment characterized by lower budget expenditures. He said officials were prohibited from using budget funds for purchasing new cars for their work for a period of two years. Officials, especially regional administration heads, have been accused of a "tradition" of exhausting their budgets by buying the latest models of imported off-road vehicles costing up to $100,000.

Russia To Run Leasing Company To Promote Kazan Aircraft Maker
Russian government plans to purchase a controlling stake in the Financial Leasing Company, which sponsors the production of Tu-214 airplanes by the Kazan Aircraft Plant, "Vechernaya Kazan" reported on 4 December. Moscow is to pay $52.6 million for the shares and hopes to attract Russian banks to lend to the company. The Kazan plant was the only producer in Russia to have finished the construction of two airplanes in 2001, while reportedly no passenger aircraft were produced by any other Russian companies.

Kryashen Youth Union Formed On Eve Of Census
Tatarstan's Kryashen (Baptized Tatar) Youth Union held its constituent congress on 1 December in Chally. The Union is reportedly to "defend the independent Turkic identity of Kryashens, which is obtaining freedom and beginning the path of self-determination." The executive committee chairman of the Republican Ethnic-Cultural Kryashen Center, Vitalii Abramov, told delegates that the Russian Ethnology Institute and the State Statistics Committee included Kryashens in the list of designated groups for the national census in 2002. "It is a great responsibility, to be shared by young Kryashens, [to inform] Tatarstan's leaders about our problems and prepare a program of measures for solving the social, cultural, and religious issues of Kryashen people."

President Says Payments To Ramshackle Housing Will Remain Obligatory
Mintimer Shaimiev said on 3 December that no Tatarstan company has the right to refuse to pay into the republic's ramshackle housing fund, which offers free apartments to residents in the oldest districts in Kazan and other cities.

In September, Chief Prosecutor Kafil Amirov appealed to the State Council asking to abolish the 1 percent tax, which he claimed violated federal laws. The parliament replaced the corresponding law with one on a "contribution for the liquidation of ramshackle housing."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Journalists Union Seen As Important Tool For Organizing The 'Constructive' Work Of Media
A congress of Bashkortostan's Journalists Union stated in a 30 November resolution that, "Journalist should operate constructively, not for destruction.... Life demands mass media workers to be analysts, researchers, and teachers." The Union upheld a project for republican government assistance in organizing courses for young and more experienced reporters.

First Bashkir Women's Congress Held Outside Bashkortostan
The first Bashkir Women's Congress in history was held in Magnitogorsk, the second-largest city in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Bashinform reported. The congress adopted a document which declared the need for Bashkir women to be more active in public affairs and the need for more respect in families.

Disabled To Get More Republican Assistance In 2002
Bashkortostan's draft budget prescribes 150 million rubles ($5 million) in support for the disabled in 2002, a figure which is 57 percent higher than in the previous year. Nevertheless, only a small share of the 180,000 disabled people living in Bashkortostan will receive extensive medical treatment, the head of the Disabled People's Society, Rinat Mansurov, said on 3 December.

Ufa Real Estate Prices Among The Highest In Russia
Real estate prices in Bashkortostan's capital, Ufa, are estimated to be the third-highest in Russia behind Moscow and St. Petersburg, Bashkortostan's deputy minister of construction and architecture, Yurii Alimov, said on 3 December. He said the situation was a result of the involvement of a great many resellers, who significantly mark up the price.

Decree Issued For Holding New Year's Celebrations
President Murtaza Rakhimov signed a decree on New Year's celebrations in Bashkortostan, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 3 December. The document requires state bodies to arrange special holiday events in all regions of Bashkortostan, paying special attention to orphans.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi