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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 7, 2004

7 December 2004
Tatarstan Adopts Anticorruption Strategy
Tatarstan's Security Council on 30 November endorsed a new anticorruption strategy, which will be used for reference when adopting laws on curbing the illegal practices of state bodies, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The strategy was drafted by INDEM President Georgii Sattarov, who relied on research compiled by the foundation on corruption in Tatarstan and Russia. In introducing the document, Tatarstan's First Deputy Prime Minister Rawyl Moratov warned that the strategy presented "honest" and therefore shocking figures. The strategy paper reportedly placed Tatarstan in the middle of the pack of the 40 most corrupt regions in Russia. INDEM's public-opinion polls conducted in Tatarstan revealed that local residents named the lack of clear anticorruption policies, the low qualification levels of personnel, the lack of business ethics among political leaders as the major reasons for corruption.

Tatar, Bashkir Audit Chambers Establish Closer Ties
The audit chambers of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan republics have signed a cooperation treaty under which they will jointly work to ensure the lawful use of budgetary and non-budgetary funds, Tatar-inform reported on 30 November. Under the agreement, the sides will conduct joint training courses for audit executives.

Government To Offer Its Funds To New Technology Businesses
Yevgenii Grishin, head of the economy and finance department in Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers, told reporters on 30 November that the government had established an investment and venture fund for financing the creation of high-technology technologies in the republic, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 1 December. The fund will use excess revenues from Tatarstan's budget for the initiative.

Tatar Public Center Accuse Kazan Mayor Of Boosting Interethnic Tensions In The Republic
The roundtable of moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TIU) on 25 November condemned the Kazan mayor Kamil Iskhakov for his efforts for returning the icon of Kazan Godmother to the Tatar capital by its millennium anniversary celebrations, stating assurance in that the return will bring to "destabilization in the republic," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Naming the Kazan mayor, who being an ethnic Tatar, made these efforts, TIU called him a "traitor," asserting that the return will increase the tensions between the Russians and Tatas and so will the opening of the Orthodox pilgrimage center, which is expected to be built for the icon worshipped by Russian Orthodox Church since the conquest of Kazan by Russian troops in 16th century. The currently mentioned icon is the copy of the original Orthodox relic, handed as a gift of Pope to the Russian Church.

World Bank To Make Its Decision On Kazan Loan In January 2005
Meeting with president Mintimer Shaimiev on 25 November, director of the World Bank branch in Russia Kristalina Georgieva said that in January 2005 the Bank's board of directors will consider the issue of granting a $125 million loan to the city of Kazan for implementing the city's development strategy till 2015, RFE/RL' Kazan bureau reported the next day. Georgieva praised the current preparations for the strategy's implementation, expressed in adopting special laws on municipal government and social protection of population,

Tatarstan Plans An Ambitious Project For Boosting Its Attractiveness For Investors
Tatarstan's Minister of Transport and roads Vladimir Shvetsov told the reporters on 25 November that Tatarstan is planning to create an international freight logistics terminal at the cost of $300 million, thus reviving the 10 years old project, which had failed due to the lack of funding, "Kommersant-Povolzhye" wrote the next day. The terminal to be established near Sviyazhsk, Yeshel Uzen region of Tatarsan is expected to become a center of stockpiling, consignation, distribution, processing, distribution and shipment of a wide range of cargo.

Tatar Pop Star Seeking To Duet With Eminem
Alsou, the international pop start of Tatar descent is likely to perform in a duet with the world-famous, yet controversial rap star Eminem and sides are currently discussing the price of the projectm, reported on 25 November. Eminem was said to mention the price of several million dollars, and Alsou's recording company currently seeks to negotiate on a lower price.

Compiled by Iskeder Numi

Nizhnii Movgorod Amdinistration Bans The Rally For Tatar Rights
The city government of Nizhnii Novgorod on 25 November cancelled its recent approval for Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center, which had planned to stage a protest meeting on its way to the civic congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars in Moscow, Bashnews repoted the same day. Tatar Public Center, which seeks to obtain an official status to Tatar language in Bashkortostan, reportedly linked the refusal to an alleged phone call from Bashkortostan's Murtaza Rakhimov to Sergei Kirienko, the Russian presidential envoy in Volga federal district, whose office is located in Nizhnii Novgorod.

Greenpeace Concerned With UNIDO's Participation in Yumaguzin Project
Greenpeace Russia addressed the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)with a request to issue and official comment on its joining the project for constructing the Umaguzin water reserve in Bashkortostan, which is reportedly being conducted with major vlations of environmental laws, Bashnews reported on 25 November. Accordign to Mikhail Kneidlin, expert of the Greenpeace timber protection group, by these statements Bashkir authorities are trying to remove their responsibility for consequences of the project and partially put it on international organizations.

Bashkortostan's Budget Ready For Endorsement By The Presdient
On 25 November the Bashkortostan's State Assembly adopted in the final 3rd reading the draft republican budget for 2005, with the 32.2 billion rubles ($1.11 billion) of estimated incomes and 32.7 billion ($1.12)of expenses, which would result in 2.5 billion rubles (some $86 million)deficit, Bashinform reported the same day. According to experts presenting the draft budget, the deficit emerged due to the reduction of sigle social tax from 35.6 percent to 26 percent and the decreasing of Bashkortostan's shares in revenues from the oil tax from 14.4 percent to 5 percent, just as the total withdrawal of water tax from the republic's jurisdiction. In addition the re public will receive 5 percent instead of the former 6.5 percent of the profit tax collected in Bashkortostan.

Pro-Government Bashkortostan Peoples' Congress Addresses Putin
The council of the pro-governmental Assembly of Bashkortostan's Peoples, which is chaired by former World Bashkir Congress leader Niyaz Mejitov, adopted an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin on 27 November stating that the group of Tatar rights organizations "were aiming to destabilize interethnic relations" in the republic. The council, which the same day held a congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars in Moscow, has denied previous allegations made by Tatar rights organizations, which had complained that they were not allowed to hold a congress in their home republic of Bashkortostan. According to the appeal, the only lawful Congress of Bashkortostan Tatars is the one chaired by Eduard Khemitov, who is often accused by independent Tatar civic groups of being strongly affiliated with Bashkortostan's government.

Rakhimov Talks Moscow Into Privatizing Polief Factory...
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov told reporters upon his return from Moscow on 30 November that he has reached an agreement with the minister of economic development and trade, German Gref, on speeding up the privatization of the Polief chemical factory. Rakhimov said the factory will be privatized in an auction, and that the starting price will be lowered until an interested party confirms its participation in the auction, Bashinform reported the same day.

...And Meets With Russia's Human Rights Commissioner
Also during his Moscow visit, Rakhimov met with Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin, who, according to the Bashkir president, "confirmed that there were a number of [human rights] violations discovered in Bashkortostan, especially among law enforcement bodies although, compared to the situation in other Russian regions, Bashkortostan looks quite well off." Rakhimov pledged that he will continue his "full-scale assistance" to human rights activists in his republic.

Compiled by Iskeder Numi

!empty!Court Abolishes Second Round Of Kurgan Gubernatorial Elections
A Kurgan Oblast court on 4 December nullified the second round of a gubernatorial election that was previously slated for 5 December, reported on 6 December. The court sustained an appeal by the head of the For Honest Elections group, Gabdulla Isakaev, who argued that a decision setting the date of the second round illegally reduced the period for informing voters from five to four days. Incumbent Governor Oleg Bogomolov criticized the court decision on 6 December in an appeal to oblast residents, saying it is unfounded. The same day, oblast Election Commission Chairman Svetlana Gulkova said 10 million rubles ($359,500) must be allocated for holding the second round of the vote, while additional resources has not yet been found.

Bogomolov won the first round of elections on 28 November, followed by the leader of the Union of Rightst Forces (SPS) in Kurgan Oblast, Yevgenii Sobakin.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Defense-Industry Workers Hold Six-Day Hunger Strike
Twenty-five employees of Sverdlovsk Oblast's Krasnouralsk chemical plant, including 14 women, held a hunger strike from 30 November to 5 December to protest wages arrears, reported the same day, citing the plant's labor leader, Aleksandr Karelin. The strikers refused meals and drank only water. The plant's workers have not been paid for 11 months and are owed some 53 million rubles. On 1 December, two more people joined the action, Novyi region reported the same day. A criminal case has been filed over nonpayment of wages at the plant. On 2 December, Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Yurii Zolotov met with the strikers but failed to persuade them to end their action. The next day, Sverdlovsk Oblast Prime Minister Aleksei Vorobyev visited Krasnouralsk to meet with the hunger strikers and informed them that the oblast budget will allocate funds to repay three months' back wages to the employees. The same day, the physical state of the strikers declined and three were hospitalized. Participants ended the action after they were paid some 700,000 rubles, while other employees are still owed their wages. The plant's leadership has suggested it plans to cover the back wages in full within three months.

Muslims Express Concern Over Sects In Sverdlovsk Oblast
Russia's Muslim Religious Board in Sverdlovsk Oblast has condemned plans by the Evangelical community and the New Life organization to hold free screenings of the film "Jesus" in Yekaterinburg along with a series of lectures purportedly propagating their faith, Novyi region reported on 3 December. The appeal, released the same day, claims that foreign spiritual and moral principles are being forced upon Muslims as well as other Urals residents, violating constitutional guarantees. Mufti Sibagatulla Saidullin said an agreement exists between traditional Russian denominations on the non-interference in religious principles of other faiths. The widespread propagation of the film, its free screening, and public lectures violate this balance, Saidullin charged, since they suggest the superiority of one religion over others. The Yekaterinburg Orthodox Eparchy has also protested the activities of such groups.

1,500 Udmurtia s State Budget Employees Picket
More than 1,500 Udmurtia residents picketed in front of the Udmurtian parliament during a State Council session on 30 November, reported the same day. Many of the protesters were teachers, while medical and culture-sector professionals and students also reportedly took part. The head of the republican teachers union, Valerii Chipeyev, said the action was sanctioned. Teachers were protesting a reduction in the indexation, or automatic adjustment for economic developments, of salaries from 20 to 10 percent -- a cut that is proposed in the 2005 republican budget. Students were protesting the expected abolition of benefits.

Two-Man Runoff Appears Set For Ulyanovsk Governor's Post
Dimitrovgrad Mayor Sergei Morozov (27.9 percent) and businessman Sergei Gerasimov (19.6 percent) will compete in a runoff in the Ulyanovsk Oblast gubernatorial race based on the results of the 5 December first-round balloting, Regnum reported on 6 December. The report cited preliminary results provided by the oblast's election commission. State Duma Deputy Margarita Barzhanova finished third with 15.7 percent of the vote.

...As Competitors Allege Unfair Campaign
Five candidates for Ulyanovsk Oblast governor complained on 1 December to Russian President Vladimir Putin of unfair campaigning in the run-up to the 5 December vote, alleging legal and constitutional infringements, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 2 December. Ulyanovsk Oblast First Deputy Governor Mikhail Shaknov, State Duma Deputy Margarita Barzhanova (Unified Russia), Ulyanovsk Oblast Communist Party leader Aleksandr Kruglikov, businessman Sergei Gerasimov, and Ulyanovsk Mayor Pavel Romanenko signed the appeal, in which they say Volga Federal District presidential envoy Sergei Kirienko used administrative muscle to promote an unspecified candidate. The daily speculated that the claimants are referring to Dimitrovgrad Mayor Morozov, who is supported by Unified Russia. Nine candidates ran in the first round of the gubernatorial election.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova