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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 25, 2001

25 December 2001
Presidential �TV-Bridge� Closed For Wide Public Access In Kazan
About 100 people, Kazan Technological University students and pensioners came to Kazan Kremlin square on 24 December to join the TV-bridge with Russian president Vladimir Putin, broadcast by Russian ORT, RTR TV channels and Tatarstan State TV. Other local TV channels were prohibited to shoot the event and later correspondents of local press also complained that they had difficulties entering the square area thoroughly guarded by both militia forces and special service officers. None of the casual Kazan residents willing to ask their questions to president Putin were allowed to speak out, while three �randomly selected� persons rehearsed their parts before the live TV connection. Responding to the first question about possible influence of slumping oil prices on incomes of Russian people Putin said �government will do everything not to let that happen.� In his words, federal budget was calculated basing on the �pessimistic oil and gas market forecasts, so that falling prices do not really frighten us, but if such situation remains for a long time, we will have some difficulties with our budget.� Answering the question on whether recruits from Russian Federation would be sent for military actions in Afghanistan, the president said that �it won�t happen� All we care about is that drug laboratories and terrorist training camps in Afghanistan should be destroyed and it must become a neutral state.� Putin also stated his attitude to Islam by saying that it was �a world-wide religion, which is traditional in Russia and deserves support from the state, because in our country Islam and Christianity peacefully coexisted for many centuries.�

Mayor Urges The Repayment Of Back Wages�
Kazan mayor Kamil Iskhakov urged the city officials and directors of major local companies to repay all the remaining back wages to their workers on 24 December.

According to the chief of city social security department Tatyana Larionova the same day, her organization so far received only 77% of funding for 2001 and owed 22,9 million rubles [$763 thousand] to socially unprotected population including families with many children and disabled children.

�While Municipal Service Workers Prepare To Protest The Non-payment
Also on 24 December Elevators Maintenance Service of Soviet district in Kazan declared their intention to switch off the elevators in the district�s apartment blocks unless their wages arrears are paid in full. Resident�s are reported to pay for elevators in time, but the city Calculation Chamber failed to transfer their payments to EMS.

Muslim Region Head Denies Fund Abuse Charges
Several deputies of Muslim region�s Council stated their disbelief to administration head Rustam Sharipov on 24 December, accusing him of funds abuse and failing to ensure the stable operation of local hospital and other social institutions. Sharipov refused to discuss these accusations during the regional Council meeting and explained the situation by �development of democracy� in Muslim.

Government To Stop Fake Vodka Imports In TR
President Mintimer Shaimiev told the meeting of Tatarstan�s government on 24 December that in order to stop the growing statistics of alcohol poisoning in the republic, more measures should be taken against illegal imports and production of falsified vodka in TR. Some 45 per cent of vodka sold in the republic is reportedly produced illegally and in 2001 about 3,5 thousand people died of drinking it. State owned Tatarstan�s alcohol manufacturers contribute 16% to republican budget by selling 3,4 million deciliters of vodka per year. Shaimiev stated after the meeting that �we cannot ban alcohol, but our task is to control the quality of drinks, there must be a moral approach to this problem.�

Shaimiev Pays A Visit To Ordinary Kazan Family
Following his annual New Year tradition president Shaimiev visited one of the Kazan families moving into a new apartment according to the republican ramshackle housing program. He greeted the Lukoyanov�s family with their new home and emphasized that 20 thousand families have moved to free apartment from old housing in Tatarstan since the program is implemented. He said that after the federal government�s order to transform the ramshackle housing tax into a voluntary payment the republic will resume this program relying on �responsible people and not the scandalous screamers.�

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Doesn�t Seem To Regret The Amendments Forced To First Bashkir Constitution By Moscow
President Murtaza Rakhimov greeted the residents of Bashkortostan with the republic�s Constitution Day on 24 December. According to his message, �1993 Constitution became a orienting point for advancing on the path of a democratic legal state, civil society and created favorable conditions for further development of treaty-based relations with Russia.� He commented on the numerous amendments to the law demanded by federal authorities by saying �no matter how progressive the Constitution is, life demands new corrections to its norms. These amendments are an implementation of the fundamental law�s potential aimed on � strengthening of the statehood and democracy.�

Bashkir Legislators Ask To Revise The Self-Governments Act
Legislative Chamber deputies of Bashkortostan�s State Assembly proposed a list of amendments to the federal law on local self-governments, which are to �clear the issues� of this branch of power, Bashinform reported. The proposed draft says that in some of the law�s articles there was an unlimited scope of commissions granted to the bodies, sometimes concerning the basic human rights and in other articles there were no guarantees for protecting the autonomy of such bodies.

Putin Appoints New Judges In BR
Chief Federal Inspector in BR Rustem Khamitov distributed the federal identification documents to the new judges of Bashkortostan appointed by Russian president on 24 December. Khamitov congratulated the judges and stressed that they �should fulfill their duties of federal judges with responsibility.�

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi