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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 16, 1998

16 November 1998
Tatar President On Contradictions Between Russian And Tatar Constitutions
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 13 November that negotiations with Moscow could help to overcome contradictions between the Russia and Tatar constitutions. Shaimiev, speaking at a conference on federal-regional relations in Moscow, said that it is necessary to find mutually acceptable constitutions for both Russia and Tatarstan. Shaimiev said in the event that the two sides reach an agreement, legislative initiatives could be introduced to change both constitutions, Tatar state television reported on 14 November.

Shaimiev said he believes the treaty on power sharing between Russia and Tatarstan is the only way to maintain Russia's territorial integrity. Tatarstan is a republic of Russia, but Kazan has not signed the Russian Federal Treaty and it bases its relations with Moscow on the 1994 power-sharing treaty.

Tatarstan Seeks Solution To Gazprom Debt
President Shaimiev said he invites the natural gas monopoly Gazprom to participate in a tender to privatize the Tatar energy company Tatenergo and other energy producing enterprises. Shaimiev hopes that Gazprom involvement in the companies could lead to a deal in which Tatarstan's debt to the energy giant could be repaid. Shaimiev said he reviewed the options of settling its debts to Gazprom by barter while touring the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug with Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev last week. Shaimiev said in an interview with Tatar state television on 13 November that a housing program will be developed for the families of Tatarstan citizens working in Yamal-Nenets (at some companies up to 30 percent of the employees are from Tatarstan). Under the proposed program, gas consumers that owe Tatar companies will build apartments for these families and the cost of these apartments would be credited to Tatarstan's debt to Gazprom.

Government Approves Free Economic Zone Plan
The Tatar government has developed a plan to create the Alabuga free-economic zone in an effort to attract investment for car production at the YelAZ auto factory. According to the resolution, approved on 13 November by the government, it was recommended that the republic's Commercial and Industrial Chamber organize international commodity exhibitions and fairs and create a center for wholesale trade in Alabuga. The Tatar republican Fund for Support of Small Entrepreneurship was charged with developing an investment program for the production of spare parts. The resolution also appointed a panel of observers to the council of the free economic zone, which is headed by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, Tatar state radio reported. A joint venture with General Motors began at YelAZ in 1996. The plant produces Chevrolet Blazer jeeps.

Trade Unions Focus On Wages Payment To Agrarian Workers
The republican Trade Unions Council (TUC) has requested a raise in the indices of unpaid wages to workers in the agriculture sector. At the TUC's 13 November session -- which was devoted to the social problems of agriculture workers -- it was reported that the average salary for agro-industrial jobs is two times lower than in the industrial sector. Additionally, some 70 percent of an agricultural worker's wage goes toward the purchase of food, and the mortality rate of rural inhabitants is 1.5 times higher than it is for urban residents, the TUC's press service reported.

New Telephone Station Constructed In Tatarstan's Elmet District
A new telephone station was opened in Tatarstan's Elmet district on 13 November. Equipment for the station, designed to hold 2,000 numbers, was made by Siemens. The station's opening is part of the government's effort to make telephones available republic-wide by 2001.