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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 12, 1999

12 August 1999
Tatar Official On Situation In Daghestan
The advisor to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Rafael Khakimov, said he doubted "that order and discipline would be restored in Daghestan in the next one or two weeks," as acting Russian Premier Vladimir Putin said recently. In an interview with Tatarinform on 12 August, Khakimov called the conflict in Daghestan "something [to which blame is] assignable and not fleeting; connected to the same problems as in Chechnya, [and which are] now spreading over the North Caucasus." He claimed that "the situation in Daghestan could have been predicted two years ago." In Khakimov's opinion, the future of Chechen militants in Daghestan would depend on relations between Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and warlord Shamil Basaev. "If both sides agree on peace in Chechnya, Basaev will concentrate forces in Daghestan, because Chechen warlords will be cornered, and an escape to the Caspian Sea via Daghestan would be the only way for them to survive. In this case," Khakimov warns, "there would be a serious war in Daghestan which would not be over in two days or two months. Daghestan is a big knot of problems for the federal center," he said. "The situation in Daghestan is complicated by an uneasy ethnic situation, where 10 or 12 ethnic groups exist which cannot be united under the flag of Islam, or the flag of the republic's independence, unlike the way it was in Tatarstan. In the current situation it is very hard to organize the purposeful resistance to the pressure of the well-prepared militants of Shamil Basaev. It was necessary to agree on economic issues with Maskhadov two years ago," Khakimov stressed. Recently the Chechen plenipotentiary representative in Tatarstan, Umar Ayupov, stated that acting Premier Putin could "merely imagine the real situation in Dagestan, [and is] relying on false information [about Dagestan]."

Unemployment Rate Goes Down
Some 37,200 people are registered as unemployed in Tatarstan, the republican press reported on 12 August. The estimated unemployment rate is about 2.06 percent, marking a decrease compared to the beginning of the year, when some 45,000 people were registered as unemployed. The highest unemployment rates are in the republic's second city of Chally, and in Alabuga, where some 6 percent of the workforce is jobless, and in Chistay, where 5 percent are so registered. Reportedly about 76 percent of the unemployed are women. Local media also report that there is a lot of unregistered unemployed, particularly in factories where production has stopped, skewing the real unemployment rates.

Helicopter Plant Reports Profits
Profits of the Kazan Helicopter Plant reached 534 million rubles in the first half of 1999, exceeding the profits of the same period last year by almost six times, the "Vremya I Dengi" business daily reported on 12 August. KHP representatives said that production growth and the rise of the dollar exchange rate was behind the significant increase in profits (reportedly about 90 percent of the plant's production is being exported to South America, Asia, and the Middle East).

Construction Resumes At Kama River Bridge
The republican government has revived the construction of a bridge over the Kama River in Sorochyi Gori, Tatarinform reported on 12 August. Construction was frozen in 1998 because of a lack of money. The bridge will serve to connect Central Russia with Orenburg, Kazakhstan, Middle Asia, the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East. Fifteen regions of Tatarstan currently using ferry transport will also be connected with Tatarstan's capital of Kazan. The bridge will reportedly shorten the distance from Moscow to Chelyabinsk by about 120 kilometers.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi