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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 18, 2002

18 January 2002
President Establishes Heraldic Council In Tatarstan
The Heraldic Council in the republic's presidential office was established on 15 January by decree of President Mintimer Shaimiev, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported. The body is intended to promote a united state policy in the heraldic sector and oversee the creation and use of official symbols of Tatarstan, state bodies and local self-governance bodies, and awards and honorary signs, the decree said.

KamAZ Head Denies Rumors Of Possible Dismissal
KamAZ General Manager Ivan Kostin scoffed at rumors he was being dismissed from his post, reported on 17 January. "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 16 January cited unidentified sources in reporting a possible visit by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov to KamAZ in February to fire Kostin. The paper wrote that Tatarstan Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Kogogin will likely replace Kostin, adding that several deputy general managers will also be sacked. Kostin said KamAZ "looks ahead with confidence, as it became a profitable production in 2001." He said the revival of engine production -- for which a $150 million credit was attracted from Japan �- is a serious contribution to the improvement of the economic situation.

Tatneft To Issue Eurobonds
Tatneft said it plans to issue $200 million worth of Eurobonds this year, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 16 January, quoting "Izvestia." A company representative said the event will likely take place in the second half of the year, and the income will be invested in the construction of the Tuben Kama Oil Processing Plant. The paper commented that Tatneft has become the first oil company in Russia to announce a planned sale of Eurobonds on what is still a turbulent market. The oil company is to pay off $354 million in debt to Western creditors this year, the daily said.

YelAZ To Become Joint-Stock Company
YelAZ Deputy General Manager Robert Valeev told Al-inform on 10 January that his company, now state-run, will be transformed into a joint-stock company in 2002. Valeev said the measure will include cutting staff, and the YelAZ property-management department is developing a corresponding program to soften the blow of expected dismissals.

Tatarstan Among Cellular Communications Leaders
Tatarstan's Santel cellular communications operator was rated among Russia's top 10 companies in the sector, reported on 10 January. The number of Santel subscribers trebled to more than 100,000 in 2001. Tatarstan has the fourth-largest cellular communications network in Russia, the agency said.

Mamadysh Raion Loses Leader Over Alleged Abuses
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 11 January visited the Mamadysh Raion to fire raion administration head Faruk Idiatullin for alleged abuses of office, republican media reported. Rustam Kalimullin, previously the head of the Tatpotrebsoyuz consumer-cooperatives union, was appointed the raion's new leader. "Vechernyaya Kazan" the same day cited rumors that three or four more raion heads will be sacked before the new farming season begins.

Scholars Discuss Islamic Culture In Idel-Ural Region
A symposium on Islamic culture in the Volga-Ural region was held in Kazan on 10-11 January under the chairmanship of Rafail Khakimov, a presidential adviser and the director of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences History Institute, along with Hermitage museum Director Mikhail Piotrovskii, reported. Participants held sessions on the Volga-Ural region as a part of the Islamic civilization, arts and crafts, and architecture of Volga-Urals Muslims.

Reports Of Ulyanovsk Muslim Move Spark Denials
The head of the Ulyanovsk Oblast Muslim Religious Board, Ilgiz Nasybullov, in "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 16 January ruled out the possibility of his organization joining the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board. Nasybullov was reacting to reports of talks between Ulyanovsk Mufti Fatykh Alliulov and Tatarstan Mufti Gusman Iskhakov about such a plan. Nasybullov said 160,000 Muslims live in the oblast -- too many to need to subordinate themselves to Kazan. The board has not empowered Alliulov to hold such negotiations, he added.

The paper said talks on Ulyanovsk Muslims' moving under the wing of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board -- which it insists took place -- were sparked by a conflict within the Ulyanovsk Muslim community between supporters of Talgat Tadjuddin, the supreme mufti of Russian and the European Countries of the CIS, and followers of Ravil Ganutdin, the chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Constitutional Court Defends Republic's Constitution on 17 January reported that "the Constitutional Court of Bashkortostan made the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office understand the republic's basic law." The corresponding resolution adopted by the Bashkir Constitutional Court on 28 December to interpret principles of the Bashkir Constitution was published on 17 January in the republic. The ruling was issued as a response to the protest by the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office against 55 paragraphs, or about one-third of the republic's constitution. They included concepts of "sovereignty" and "republican citizenship," the requirement for presidential candidates to speak both state languages, the order of formation of state authority bodies, and the powers of the republic's president.

The Bashkir Constitutional Court ruled that the paragraphs in the constitution referring to the republic's sovereignty do not overstep the limits of Bashkortostan's powers. The concept of republican citizenship was interpreted as the "stable legal connection of a Russian Federation citizen with Bashkortostan based on his or her permanent or predominant residence in the republic." The court said that republican citizenship recognizes the priority and unity of Russian Federation citizenship and provides additional guarantees of human and civil rights. The language requirement for presidential candidates is in conformity with the federal law on principles of state service, the court said.

Rakhimov Describes Bashkortostan's Achievements, Problems
President Murtaza Rakhimov told "Parlamentskaya gazeta" on 17 January that interethnic concord and political stability are the results of the nationalities policy followed in the republic. The maintenance and development of native languages and national cultures is the most important aim of this policy, he said, adding that newspapers in six languages are published in the republic. Rakhimov denied accusations that the republic's economic successes are a result of economic privileges and stressed that the republic always was among donor regions and leaders in Russia in terms of contribution to the federal budget.

The Bashkir president outlined the main problems of the republic's economic development, including raw materials being the main source of budget revenues, moral and physical wear and tear of industrial equipment, the low efficiency of investments in agriculture, and revision of strategy and forms of agricultural reform. Rakhimov called the worsening demographic situation and decline in the population "a disturbing symptom" demanding urgent measures. He said the state's care of children, families, youth, and mothers over the four years are "direct investments in our future."

Bashkir Deputy Praises Republic's Unique Political Model
Bashkir State Assembly deputy Alim Akhmadeev told "Parlamentskaya gazeta" on 17 January that "a unique political model of regional political development with a united center of management headed by a recognized leader" has been formed in Bashkortostan. Akhmadeev said the republic's leader enjoys a high level of support from the overwhelming majority of the electorate and does not suppress criticism of authorities or other civil rights. All democratic electoral procedures are followed in the republic, he stressed. He noted that a strict system of management has formed in the republic, adding that it is a system able to secure the stable development of the republic.

Russian Organization Promotes State-Language Status For Tatar
Bashkortostan's Rus association, the Equality movement, and the Tatar Public Center began preparing a letter to the Russian president and the State Duma to protest forcing non-Bashkir children to study Bashkir. The public activists said that the republic's law on languages discriminates against non-titular peoples rather than satisfying their language needs. Rus members believe that the Tatar language must also be given the status of a state language. Rus leader Anatolii Dubovsky told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 16 January that the republic's language law is discriminative towards the Tatar language and Tatar-speaking populations, including the Bashkirs who speak Tatar. Dubovsky said that the "progressive part of Bashkirs is also indignant with that law and believes all three languages -- Bashkir, Russian, and Tatar -- must be given equal rights," adding that the language issue is a powder keg for republican authorities which will explode one day. He noted that Bashkir leaders increase their nationalistic activities under cover of the implementation of that law and called on them to change the language policy.

Transfers To Moscow Double
Rashit Sattarov, the head of the Russian Tax Ministry's board in Bashkortostan, told a press conference on 17 January that his service collected 51.5 billion rubles ($1.690 billion) in taxes in 2001, 20 percent more than the previous year. The sum is the second largest in the Volga district following Samara Oblast and seventh in Russia, Sattarov said. The republic transferred to the federal budget 25.4 billion rubles, 1.9 times the previous year's sum, he added.

Bashkortostan's Agreement With Surgutneftegaz Causes Nervous Reaction In Tatarstan on 17 January commented that the cooperation agreement signed by the leaders of Bashkortostan and Surgutneftegaz on 15 January put in question further negotiations in the sector between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. Previously, the two republics planned to develop the integration of the petrochemical sector and to bring deliveries of oil by Tatneft to Bashneftekhim to 6 million tons a year.

The presidents of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, Mintimer Shaimiev and Murtaza Rakhimov, discussed the issue during their meeting on 16 August. Then the prime ministers of the two republics agreed the Ufa Oil Processing Plant will be rented by Tatneft with the right of later purchase. Later, however, the negotiations reached a deadlock.

The agency said the agreement with Surgutneftegaz is a confirmation of Bashkortostan's decision to find a new partner in place of Tatneft, adding that Surgutneftegaz is unlikely to assume any republican property. The agency noted that two weeks earlier, the deputy presidential envoy to the Volga district, Sergei Obozov, visited Ufa to discuss with Murtaza Rakhimov the development of the republican petrochemical sector.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chavashia's Fedorov Challenges Powers Of Russian President
The Russian Constitutional Court will hear two challenges from Chavash Republic President Nikolai Fedorov on 22 January, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 January. Fedorov is contesting federal legal acts empowering the Russian president to dismiss heads of federation entities and local self-governance bodies and to dissolve regional parliaments. Corresponding amendments to the federal legislation were adopted as a part of a package of laws intended to strengthen vertical power. Those acts introduce a new concept of "responsibility of state authority bodies of federation members" and a mechanism for dismissing regional heads and dissolving legislatures -- something that Fedorov says is not provided for in the Russian Constitution.

Mayors Of Largest Chavash Cities Tender Resignations
The Cheboksary administration press service said the Cheboksary City Council is to consider the resignation of Mayor Anatolii Igumnov on 22 January, adding that "deputies are going to ask Igumnov to remain on his post," reported on 17 January. Igumnov tendered his resignation after a meeting with President Nikolai Fedorov the previous day. The heads of several of Cheboksary's districts and boards, as well as Igumnov's deputies, reportedly also announced their resignations. The heads of three of the largest cities in the republic -- Nokolai Sergeev (Novocheboksarsk), Aleksei Planshenkov (Kanash), and Vladimir Pakhomov (Alatyr) �- also said they would step down. In all four of those cities, Nikolai Fedorov lost the 16 December presidential elections.

The same day, quoted the Chavash presidential press service as commenting that Cheboksary Mayor Igumnov evaluated the results of the December elections in Cheboksary as unsatisfactory.

Russian Prosecutors Sue Authors For Libeling Chavash President, His Father
The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office filed suit accusing two journalists of libeling Chavash President Nikolai Fedorov and his father during the recent presidential campaign, reported on 14 January. Prosecutors are charging Igor Molyakov and Yegor Semenov, the authors of publications in the KPRF party newspaper in Chavashia, "Cheboksarskaya pravda," and Novocheboksarsk's city newspaper "Nedelya."

Outside Management Introduced At Cheboksary Aviation Company
Pavel Zverev was appointed external manager at Cheboksarskoe Aviapredpriyatie by decision of the Chavash Arbitration Court, reported on 17 January. The former head of the aviation company, Vitalii Dubanov, said the measure has been under discussion for 18 months, adding that he believes the move will lead the company out of crisis. Chuvashenergo and the state-run Chuvashaeronavigatsia, the Cheboksary affiliate of Volgaaeronavigatsia, are the company's main creditors.

Mordovenergo Pulls Plug On City Transport System
Trolley-buses in the Mordovian capital, Saransk, were brought to a standstill for an hour on 17 January after Mordovenergo switched off utility Gorelectrotrans, reported the same day. Mordovenergo General Manager Nikolai Laryushkin told the agency his company will act swiftly against debtors in the future. Gorelektrotrans owes Mordovenergo 26 million rubles. Energy for the city's transport network was restored after Saransk Mayor Ivan Nenyukov guaranteed to make payments of 1.2 million rubles, the site said.

Youth Orthodox Organization Established In Mordovia
The youth affairs department of the Saransk Eparchy initiated the creation of a new public youth organization called Union of Orthodox Youth in Mordovia, reported on 10 January. An Eparchy source told the agency that the new organization is aimed at helping the Russian Orthodox Church in its missionary work and in the education of Mordovia's youth in the spirit of Orthodoxy.

Court Rejects Challenge To Alternative Civil Service
A Nizhnii Novgorod district court on 16 January rejected a city prosecutor's protest against a resolution by the mayor sanctioning alternative civil service of 20 draftees in a Nizhnii Novgorod hospital, "Kommersant" reported on 17 January. The daily commented that a legal precedent thus allows draftees to skip military service on legal grounds.

Meanwhile, 35 residents of Perm Oblast defended in courts their right to alternative civil service, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 15 January.

Duma Deputy Says Merger Does Not Threaten Khanty-Mansii, Yamalo-Nenets Okrugs
Duma Deputy Fedor Konev, one of co-authors of a federal law on merging Russian Federation members, said that law does not threaten Tyumen Oblast. The oblast last year established good relations with the Khanty-Mansii and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrugs, Tyumenskaya linia reported on 15 January. Konev said those okrugs are equal to Tyumen Oblast federation members. The federal law is primarily intended to prevent negative processes in the North Caucasus, he said.

Ulyanovsk's Aviastar-SP Signs $300 Million Contract With Egypt
Aviastar-SP General Manager Viktor Mikhailov told on 14 January that he signed an investment agreement with the heads of Egypt's Kato-Aromatik under which the Egyptian side will invest $300 million in the construction of Tu-204s over next two years -- $120 million of that in the current year. Mikhailov said his company has already received $1.3 million and is to deliver the first aircraft in March.

Saratov Governor Initiates Annulment Of Power-Sharing Treaty With Moscow
Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov addressed a letter to President Vladimir Putin proposing the annulment of the power-sharing treaty between the Russian Federation and Saratov Oblast, reported on 17 January. Ayatskov said a treaty-based system established during Boris Yeltsin's rule has become antiquated, adding it is now time to leave it behind and follow the constitution and regional legislation. The power-sharing treaty was signed by Dmitrii Ayatskov and Boris Yeltsin in 1997 and was followed by some 20 addenda.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova