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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 25, 1999

25 February 1999
Tatar Official Disagrees With Primakov Statement
Tatarstan's State Council chairman, Farit Mukhametshin, said that Russian Premier Yevgeny Primakov's recent comment that all regional governors should be elected by legislative bodies was "unacceptable for republics of the Russian Federation, particularly for Tatarstan." Primakov said during a trip to St. Petersburg that the Russian Constitution should be amended to force this change. Mukhametshin said that according to Tatarstan's Constitution, the appointment procedure can be changed only by Kazan's State Council. "[Appointment is a] norm stipulated in the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Tatarstan," he added.

Government To Reduce Drug Dependency And State Theft
A governmental commission on crime and corruption, chaired by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, decided on 24 February to establish a state fund for anti-drug efforts and to promote a program against drug addiction. The program will be debated by the State Council on 9 March. There are 3,500 registered drug addicts in Tatarstan, though officials acknowledge that as many as ten times that number of drug dependent people are unregistered.

The Commission also discussed the increase in the theft of state property. Tatarstan's Ministry of Internal Affairs said some 15 million rubles worth of equipment was stolen from the state-owned Tatneft and Tatenergo companies in 1998 and sold as scrap metal. Minister of Internal Affairs Asgat Safarov said he "would offer to temporarily abolish" the companies that buy scrap metal in order to deter its theft.

Slovak Businessmen To Continue Cooperation
A Slovak business delegation led by the advisor of the Slovak Embassy in Moscow, Jozef Sandtner, met with representatives from Tatarstan's Foreign Affairs Department, Chamber of Trade and Industry, and the Ministry Of Trade and Economic Cooperation on 24 February. The Slovaks said they wanted to continue cooperation with Tatarstan, noting that after the Russian financial crisis emerged in August, Tatar-Slovak trade turnover was cut in half. "But," Sandtner said, "under the new economic conditions we are unable to unilaterally provide funding for joint ventures with Tatarstan."

Kazan Hospitals Not Receiving Full Funding
The Kazan City Council's Health Care Commission said that hospitals in the capital only received 75 percent of the funding budgeted to them last year, even though the city revenues for 1998 were greater than what was budgeted. The debt to the hospitals reportedly amounts to some 221 million rubles.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi