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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 9, 2003

9 April 2003
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast To Repay Debt
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev said the oblast will repay its foreign debt, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 5 April. Khodyrev said the Russian Finance Ministry will help the oblast take a 700 million ruble ($23.4 million) four-year credit at a 13.5 percent rate. Khodyrev said the debt will be transformed from a foreign debt into an internal one, something that is much more favorable for the oblast as it is not clear how the ruble rate vis-a-vis the dollar will change. The oblast is to repay its loan by 9 April.

Samara Oblast Governor Says He Will Run For Third Term...
Konstantin Titov said he will run for a third term in office, reported on 7 April. Commenting on the move by a group of Samara Oblast Duma deputies to prohibit him from running for a third time, Titov said legislation permits him to do this, while those who disagree with that assessment can appeal to a court.

...Summarizes Results Of U.S. Visit
Titov told reporters on 2 April about the results of his recent visit to the United States which, he said, was "extremely successful," "Samara Segodnya" reported on 4 April. Titov said an agreement was reached with the ExImBank on opening a credit line that will be spent on equipping a cancer center, the T.B. prophylactic center, and the oblast's other medical institutions. The construction of a tractor plant in Samara Oblast was on the agenda of a meeting with officials of the Keis Corporation. At a meeting with U.S. Trade Minister Donald Evans the sides held talks on further bilateral economic cooperation.

Tax Ministry Sues GM-AvtoVAZ
The Russian Tax Ministry's Samara Oblast Directorate filed a suit in an arbitration court against the GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture, saying it allegedly obtained illegal tax breaks and is to pay an additional $100,000 to the budget, "Kommersant" reported on 7 April.

In accordance with the oblast law on investments, the company, which was established in June 2001 and assembled the first Chevy Niva on 23 September 2002, was freed from the beginning of its work from payment of income, property, and land taxes to the oblast budget and provided 50 percent tax breaks for roads users. However, the Russian Tax Ministry's Samara Oblast Directorate head, Aleksandr Bakhmurov, told the daily that GM-AvtoVAZ did not provide all required documents to receive tax breaks. In addition, the corresponding oblast resolution was issued after the company stopped paying part of the taxes, while the Tolyatti administration has not presented a similar resolution. The outlet cited unnamed officials of the Samara Oblast administration as saying they would like to avoid a lawsuit that would harm the oblast's image as an attractive region in which to invest.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Mufti Supports 'Peaceful' Jihad Against U.S.-Led Coalition
The head of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Muslim Spiritual Directorate, Sibegetulla khaji, backed the announcement of a jihad against the anti-Hussein coalition by Russian Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Chairman Telget Tajetdin (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 April 2003), Novyi Region reported on 4 April. Sibegetulla said Tajetdin did not mean military actions against the United States and Great Britain but rather spiritual opposition. Any aggressive actions against Americans and Britains are out of the question, he said.

Khanty-Mansii Okrug Governor Criticizes Moscow's Approach To Power Sharing
Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Filipenko told reporters on 3 April that he disagrees with the draft federal law on general principles for the formation of state authority bodies in the federation subjects, according to which 24 of the okrug's 41 powers are to be passed to the Tyumen Oblast, reported on 4 April. Among those 24 powers, there is one regulating the use of natural resources in the okrug, which produces 60 percent of Russian oil, Filipenko said. The governor reported the results of a meeting held by Russian deputy presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak to discuss amendments to the draft, during which the sides did not reach a common position on the issue. Filipenko said the draft law violates the Russian Constitution that provides the autonomous okrug with equal rights with other federation subjects. The draft is to be considered by the Russian State Duma in mid-April.

Parliament Elected In Udmurtia
The Udmurtian parliamentary elections held on 6 April were recognized valid in all 100 electoral districts, NTA Privolzhe reported on 7 April, citing the republican electoral commission. An average of 3.24 candidates balloted for each seat in the parliament, down from 5.9 contenders in the previous campaign and 6.9 in the one before that. The news agency sited anonymous experts as commenting that the lower number of potential candidates was the result of administrative pressure against them to stand, as well as due to agreements between candidates in which some 20 registered candidates refused to take part.

Voter turnout was 42.3 percent, which is lower than in previous parliamentary elections, Kupol-Media reported on 7 April. In the capital Izhevsk, 34 percent of voters took part while in the republic's raions turnout they were between 60 and 73 percent. The minimum turnout required by the republic's electoral law is 20 percent. Forty-seven deputies of the republic's previous State Council were reelected, including former State Council Chairman Igor Semenov, who collected 81 percent of the votes in his electoral district. Forty-seven deputies represent the Unified Russia party.

Natural Resources Ministry Partially Wins Suit Against Belkamneft
A Moscow arbitration court issued a ruling on 4 April that annuls 24 licenses provided to the Bashkir-Udmurt Belkamneft oil company on the use of natural resources, "Den" reported on 7 April. The ruling, however, refused to annul the company's other two licenses on the extraction of oil at the Dubrovin oil deposit, as the Russian Natural Resources Ministry -- initiator of the suit -- demanded. The court also rejected the ministry's demand that the Russian Transneft oil transporting company be ordered to stop transporting Belkamneft's oil. The verdict became the fourth one in the lawsuit on the annulment of Belkamneft licenses begun by the ministry in October. All previous decisions refused the ministry's claims (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 29 November 2002).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova