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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 16, 1999

16 September 1999
Tatarstan Suspends Military Recruitment
The State Council of Tatarstan issued a decree on 15 September suspending the recruitment of personnel from Tatarstan for the Russian armed forces. The decision was made based on a report by the republic's military commissioner, Rim Mustay, who said that 43 recruits from Tatarstan had been sent to join the 136th vehicular brigade in Daghestan on 18 June. Seven of the recruits were reported to have been killed and two of those had only been in the army 46 days before being sent to Daghestan. Parliamentary deputies protested the fact that new recruits were sent to a combat zone and insisted that the Russian government only deploy professional soldiers in Daghestan. President Mintimer Shaimiev and parliamentary speaker Farit Mukhametshin sharply criticized Mustay for "failing to prevent such tragic cases." Mustay said volunteer soldiers were trained for six months before being sent to Afghanistan during the conflict there from 1978 to 1987. He also stated that there was no legislation in Russia that set a minimum term of military service for soldiers sent to combat situations. Parliament decided to launch an investigation into the situation and recruits from Tatarstan in Daghestan.

Parliamentary Elections Date Set
Tatarstan's State Council approved a decision to hold the republic's parliamentary elections and the elections for the Russian State Duma on the same day, 19 December. The elections are expected to cost about 20 million rubles with 6 million of that total coming from Kazan's budget. The same day Tatar President Shaimiev said that holding the votes on the same day would not damage the republic's sovereignty, and would be convenient for voters.

Parliament Passes Law On Switch To Latin Alphabet
Tatarstan's parliament passed a law on the third and final reading that calls for the republic to switch from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet, agencies reported on 15 September. The bill must now be signed by President Shaimiev. In the early 20th century the Latin alphabet replaced the Arabic one in Tatarstan. Cyrillic was introduced in the republic in the 1930s.

Official Says Gas Deliveries To Tatarstan Stable
The Russian Gazprom company has delivered 9.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Tatarstan so far in 1999, while a total of 11.7 billion is to be delivered by the end of the year.

Tatarstan's Deputy Premier Vladimir Shvetsov told a press conference on 14 September that Tatarstan did not experience any gas shortages this year. Commenting on the alleged curtailment of gas deliveries to Tatarstan, Shvetsoc said that reductions of gas deliveries only occurred in such debtor cities as Alabuga (20 million rubles), Yashel Uzen (34 million), Chally (31 million) and Elmet (32 million). Shvetsov announced that some 42 percent of Kazan's debt remained, while Bogelme paid its gas bills for 1999 in advance. Tatarstan reportedly owes Gazprom 700 million rubles. About 20 percent of current payments for gas are made in money.

Energy Being Stolen In Tatarstan
The unauthorized daily supply of some 4 million kilowatts per hour to Tatarstan in August and September is being investigated by United Energy Systems of Russia. During a press conference on 14 September, the general-director of Tatarstan's Tatenergo company, Rasim Khaziakhmetov, put the blame for energy theft on its major debtors -- former Defense Ministry plants and agricultural companies. Khaziakhmetov announced that electric energy tariffs for companies rose by 22 percent in September, while the rate for citizens remained at 16 kopeks per 1 kilowatt per hour. The production cost of the energy is 26 kopeks per 1 kilowatt per hour.

New Ministry Formed
The deputy speaker of Tatarstan's parliament, Zilya Veli, was appointed minister of the press, TV and radio broadcasting, and mass communications on 15 September. The same day former Minister of Press and Information Islam Akhmetzyan was appointed chief of the Tatar State Publishing House. According to a presidential decree, the Ministry of Press and Information is to be merged into the new ministry headed by Veli.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi