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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 19, 1999

19 March 1999
Protocol Prolonging Power-Sharing Treaties Signed In Moscow
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said upon his arrival in Kazan on 18 March that Tatarstan and the Russian federal government had signed a protocol to prolong all intergovernmental power-sharing treaties. The treaties will be valid for five years, while various details -- including tax rates in Tatarstan -- may be amended in the future if mutually agreed to by Kazan and Moscow. Shaimiev said the Russian government would participate in the debt restructuring for the KamAZ automotive works. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov endorsed the involvement of KamAZ in the federal program of automotive industry development.

Bashkortostan Election Results Released
Elections results for bilateral State Assembly and local council election held in the Republic of Bashkortostan on 14 March have been released. Of the 32 candidates standing for re-election in the lower chamber, 15 retained their seats. No parties gained substantial representation and the republican Communist Party won no seats, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. Voter turnout was just over 60 percent and the results were deemed valid in nearly all districts. Voter turnout was about 85 percent in rural districts, while in the capital, Ufa, it was 36 percent (in the cities average turnout was 56 percent). Ten seats on the Ufa City Council were not filled when most votes were cast for "none of the above."

Tatarstan President On Skuratov Situation
Mintimer Shaimiev on 18 March said that someone tried to force Russian Prosecutor-General Yuri Skuratov to resign through the use of "compromising material," and called the effort "a bungling form of enforcement." Shaimiev said the rejection of Skuratov's resignation by the Federation Council on 17 March would be "attractive for some politicians," since Skuratov's status is now seen as being "independent" from the authority of the Russian president.

Shaimiev Speaks Against Creating Ethics Protection Council
In an interview with the press in Moscow on 17 March, President Mintimer Shaimiev said he disagrees with a proposal by the Russian State Duma to establish a Supreme Council for the protection of the ethics in TV and radio broadcasting in Russia. He said "during the years of perestroika we had enough" sense not to censure "the mass media in any form." He added that "when there are no prohibitions, time makes us maturer and wiser, and journalists also become more responsible." Shaimiev admitted that it was very hard to "draw a line between prohibition and control, and its hard to find anybody able to evaluate it."

Gazprom Resumes Full Gas Deliveries To Tatarstan
In a statement for the media on 18 March, President Mintimer Shaimiev announced that Gazprom would resume its gas deliveries to Tatarstan in full. Shaimiev said that the head of Gazprom, Rem Vyakhirev, agreed to end the cutback in gas deliveries that began in early March. He admitted that Vyakhirev was "even ready to increase gas deliveries in the future if necessary." Shaimiev said "in the fourth quarter of 1998 we've proven that we are able to pay for gas, and if they cut the gas deliveries now industrial production will fall, preventing us from paying our bills in the future."

Finance Minister Lays The Blame For Budget Deficit
In his speech to the board of Tatarstan's Finance Ministry on 18 March, Finance Minister Robert Musin said the collection of taxes should be intensified in the republic to help avoid a budget deficit in 1999. Musin criticized the republican Tax Service for "inefficiency," stressing that the "payments of land tax, mineral resources tax, and the income tax are backed the most" by the enterprises of Tatarsan. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said sanctions would be used against regional administrations in Tatarstan that delay money transfers to the republican budget.

Tuberculosis Spreading In Tatarstan
About 340 people have died of tuberculosis in 1998 in Tatarstan, the Ministry of Health reported. Some 2,600 new tuberculosis carriers were registered the same year, 84 of them children. The number of infected people totals about 8,000; mostly living in the Pitryach, Yugari Slan, and Minzele regions of Tatarstan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi and Gulnara Khasanova