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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 24, 2000

24 January 2000
Tatarstan's Parliament Opens Session
The newly elected State Council of the Tatarstan Republic held its first session on 21 January. Farit Mukhametshin was the only candidate proposed for the post of parliamentary speaker. After being elected to that post unanimously by the 120 deputies present, Mukhametshin told the parliament that he was "shocked by the unanimous vote, which has put greater responsibility on me." He said that the new parliament "will have to work harder in preserving Tatarstan's independence amid the current conditions of Russian reforms." Later, Irina Larochkina, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Culture and Nationalities Affairs in the previous parliament; Robert Minnulin, administrative head of the Alekseev region; and Aleksei Demidov, were elected deputy speakers, each receiving more than 100 votes.

According to republican Central Election Committee representative Lyubov Guseva, 123 deputies were elected to the State Council. Reportedly 94 deputies are ethnic Tatars and 28 are Russian. Seventy-three of the deputies are state officials, 42 deputies represent industrial enterprises--most of them general-directors--and eight deputies represent health care, education, and cultural institutions in the republic.

A roundtable made up of representatives from the opposition parties in Tatarstan, including the local branches of the Democratic Choice of Russia party, the Russian Social Democratic party, the Trudovaya Rossiya party, and the Communist Party of Tatarstan, organized a protest at Freedom Square near the parliament building the same day. Several dozen people participating in the demonstration carried signs with slogans saying "Putin don't trust Shaimiev." The same roundtable involving the nationalist Azatlik and Omet parties recently addressed Russian acting President Vladimir Putin asking him to appoint a presidential representative to Tatarstan and insisting that the voting results of republican parliamentary elections and elections for the State Duma were falsified. About twenty members of nationalist Tatar Public Center picketed the Freedom Square the same day urging people to boycott the Russian presidential election set for 26 March.

Military Official Comments On Tatarstan's Citizens In Chechnya
An official from Tatarstan's military commissioner's office, Lieutenant-Colonel Igor Nikolaev, told the Tatarinform agency on 24 January that 18 privates and three officers from the republic were killed during combat actions in Chechnya. Nikolaev said that over 500 recruits and 101 professional soldiers from Tatarstan are currently serving in Chechnya.

Tatarstan Fulfills Its Obligations Before Gazrom
Some 13.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas were delivered by Russia's Gazprom company to the Tatarstan Republic in 1999, the republic's governmental press service announced on 24 January. The republic reportedly managed to fulfill the terms of its agreement with Gazprom and pay 40.2 percent of the cost of the gas with cash; the remainder of the cost was covered by goods produced in Tatarstan.

Kazan City Budget Faces Deficit
The Kazan City Council approved the city budget for 2000 with a 235.2 million ruble deficit, the AK&M agency reported on 22 January. According to the agency, the city budget reported an income of more than 1.9 billion rubles in 1999 while in 2000 the city will have expenditures totalling about 2.1 billion rubles.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi