23 August 2002
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTANAudit Of Tatar State Bank Reveals Only Minor Violations
An audit of the Tatar National Bank performed by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, which was completed two months ago, revealed only a handful of minor violations, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily reported on 21 August. Inspectors from the Central Bank branch in Tyumen Oblast found a number of violations in terms of the misuse of bank funds, such as 300 rubles ($9.50) for the publication of an obituary for a deceased colleague. Another case revealed that an employee had spent 3,500 rubles to organize a birthday party for a colleague but charged it as a business expense for "computer maintenance." Though this was a significant violation in comparison with the others found, no serious punishment was given to bank employees.
The audit report also pointed out that the Tatar National Bank had "loyal relations" with a number of commercial banks in the republic that find themselves in difficult circumstances, including Vyatskii Bank, Bank Zarechie, Idelbank, Tatekobank, Tatprominvestbank, and Intekhbank.
"Vechernyaya Kazan" suggested that the Tatar National Bank had to support these banks because Tatarstan's political elite wanted to regain investments they had made into these once-prosperous financial institutions.
Tatar Leaders Urge Government To Take Steps To Avoid Census Fraud
The leaders of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) and the Idel-Ural integration movement sent a letter to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, State Council Chairman Ferit Mukhametshin, and Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, asking them to take steps necessary to avoid the possible falsification of data during the October national census, which, the Tatar leaders claim, may be aimed at the reduction of the actual Tatar population in the republic and throughout Russia, "Tatar Ile" weekly reported on 20 August.
The letter urged Tatar officials to invite foreign observers to monitor the census process and to publish census figures before and after their processing by local census officials. In addition, the government was urged to insist that questionnaires be completed using pens rather than pencils, and also that the government appoint "reliable" officials to local census committees.
Federal Government To Buy FLK
The Tatar government, Tatneft oil company, Zenit Bank, and Solid investment company plan to sell their controlling share package in the Finansovaya Lizingovaya Kompaniya (the Financial Leasing Company, FLK), which was created to finance the leasing program of the Kazanskoe Aviatsionnoe Proizvodstvennoe Obedinenie (the Kazan Aircraft Plant, KAPO), to the federal government for $52.5 million to be paid in two tranches, the first in the fall and the second in the first quarter of 2003, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 20 August.
Proceeds from the sale of the shares will be used to finance the construction of 10 Tupolev 214 aircraft at KAPO: six for Dalavia airlines, two for Tretyakovo airways, and two for Versus Holding, which is affiliated with Aeroflot.
Moscow Airport To Open New Service Center For Kazan-Produced Planes
The head of aircraft maintenance at the Russian State Civil-Aviation Service, Andrei Yelistratov, said on 16 August that a maintenance center for the Kazan-produced Tupolev 214, Tupolev 204, and Ilyushin 96 aircraft will soon be opened at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, AK&M news agency reported. Yelistratov said that many of the mentioned planes operating in Russia remain idle because of a lack of spare parts and quality service. He added that the airport itself would invest in the opening of the service center, while Russia's Transport Ministry has already issued orders for the producers of the mentioned aircraft to provide the center with spare parts.
Popular Tatar Morning Show Goes Off The Air
As of 19 August, Tatarstan state television's Chulpan morning show went off the air, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The move came as a result of the division of the former Tatarstan Television between Tatarstan state television and Tatarstan New Century.
Chulpan first appeared in the republic in the early 1990s, bringing Tatar music and Tatar-language news broadcasts to hundreds of thousands of viewers. It was the only Tatar-language news-and-entertainment program available in the republic.
The Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), which recently obtained control over Tatarstan state television, has not announced its intentions to launch its own version of Chulpan, while Tatarstan New Century is planning to launch a show called Heyerle irte, Tatarstan (Good Morning, Tatarstan).
Turkish Consul-General Gets Send-Off In Kazan
President Shaimiev, Prime Minister Minnikhanov, and State Council Chairman Mukhametshin held a farewell reception on 19 August to honor Turkish Consul-General in Kazan Akhmet Riza Demirer, whose four-year term recently reached its end, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.
At the reception, Demirer outlined positive developments in Tatar-Turkish trade relations, which were seriously damaged by the Russian financial crisis in August 1998. He also said that Tatarstan and Turkey shared traditional ties and that he will try to lend Kazan's cultural heritage to Turkey, saying that the Turks had a lot to learn from the Tatars.
Mukhametshin told Demirer on behalf of the republican government that he "will always be welcome in Tatarstan."
Tatar Internet Concert Attracts Worldwide Audience
The First Tatar music concert ever broadcast on the Internet attracted more than 1,000 viewers worldwide on 21 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The majority (744) of the Internet viewers were from Russia, while other viewers were registered in Canada, Germany, Turkey, Japan, the Czech Republic, France, Australia, and Malaysia.
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTANBashkortostan Drafting Mineral-Resources Agreement
The head of a geological and mineral-resources board under the Bashkortostan Cabinet told a press conference in Ufa on 21 August that his board is drafting a power- and jurisdiction-sharing agreement for republican territory aimed at the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. Rasikh Khamitov said the work is being done under the "recent radical changes introduced by the new Russian Tax Code [from 2002], which altered the financial situation to the federal center's benefit." He said 5 billion of 6.5 billion rubles ($205.3 million) in annual mineral-resource tax receipts are to be transferred to the federal budget, while the remaining sum is insufficient for Bashkortostan to afford extensive prospecting. The planned agreement should divide up prospecting costs between Ufa and Moscow so the republic can devote more funds to such activities.
Government Discusses Economic Reform, Hints At Revenue Shortfall
Bashkortostan's Cabinet Presidium gathered on 21 August to discuss the effects on last year's economy of structural reforms backed by President Murtaza Rakhimov, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day, citing the government press service. Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov told the meeting that, despite numerous government decrees ostensibly aimed at improving the economy, many of this year's planned budget revenues are proving hard to collect. "The government will save every kopek of budget expenses, so all [state] organizations and bodies will have to cut their extra expenses and learn to live within their means," Baydavletov said. Senior republican officials, who are currently working on a draft budget, have made similar statements in the past.
Prime Minister Paints Rosy Economic Picture Of Bashkortostan...
The Russian-language daily "Parlamentskaya gazeta" published an interview with Prime Minister Baydavletov on 21 August concerning a draft federal program on Bashkortostan's social and economic development through 2006. The document, which is to be discussed by the Russian State Duma this fall, reportedly stipulates investment of 34 billion rubles ($1.08 billion) in the republic's economy from the federal budget. Baydavletov added that the federal budget will benefit to the tune of 9.58 billion rubles ($304.2 million) from Bashkortostan between 2003 and 2006, and that windfall is expected to double by 2007.
...And Vows To 'Correct Policy' In Light Of WTO Accession
Concerning Russia's planned accession to the World Trade Organization, Baydavletov said in the same interview that his republic "is ready for this move in practically all respects." However, he admitted that local farmers still depend on republican support, including "buying their harvest at high prices, granting favorable loans," and organizing management training. "But," Baydavletov resolved, "we will correct our policy."
Bashkortostan Seeking To Attract Petrochemical Investors
President Rakhimov signed a decree on 21 August allowing the Bashkir Oil Chemical Company (BNKhK) and Bashkir Fuel Company (BTK) to freely sell shares in subdivisions as a way to increase the two companies' attractiveness for potential investors, AROMI news agency reported the same day. Both companies are joint-stock companies owned by the Republic of Bashkortostan.
Bashkortostan's Harvest In Full Swing
Some 28 percent of the republic's harvest is in, according to Bashkortostan's Ministry of Agriculture on 20 August. Farmers in some regions -- such as Durtile, Ilesh, and Chishme -- have already harvested more than 50 percent of their crops.
President Rakhimov Tours Bashkortostan
President Rakhimov observed harvesting in Miyaki, Sterlibash, Sterlitamaq, and other rural regions in eastern Bashkortostan between 17 and 20 August, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 August. Rakhimov inspected farm equipment and visited a new rehabilitation center for disabled children in Sterlibash region on 20 August. He met with local-administration officials in the Chishme region on 19 August and visited a retirement home. On 21 and 22 August, Rakhimov moved west to the Blagovar, Buzdyak, Yermekeev, Bishbulyak, and Tuymazi regions. Rakhimov limited his public statements during the trip to the work of local farmers, social services, and administration.
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM IDEL-URAL REGIONReporter Killed In Chavashia
Journalist Nikolai Vasilev, who once worked as the deputy editor in chief of "Vesti Chuvashii," editor in chief of "Molodezhnyi kuryer," and was a department head at "Sovetskaya Chuvashia," was found dead early on 17 August near his home in the Chavash capital Cheboksary, "Sovetskaya Chuvashia" reported on 20 August. Vasilev reportedly died of head injuries suffered in an apparent attack. A companion was also injured and hospitalized. Several thousand rubles, a watch, and shoes were reportedly stolen from Vasilev.
Vasilev had been attacked two years ago as well. Several teenagers were arrested for that attack.
Liberal Russia Leader Gunned Down In Moscow...
State Duma Deputy from Chelyabinsk Oblast Vladimir Golovlev (independent) was murdered in broad daylight near his Moscow home on 21 August, Russian and Western news agencies reported. RIA-Novosti reported that he was shot twice in the head. Golovlev, who was elected to the Duma as a member of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), left that party in early 2001 and later became a co-chairman of Liberal Russia. "The murder of one of the five co-chairmen of Liberal Russia is undoubtedly of a political nature," fellow Liberal Russia co-Chairman and Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov was quoted as saying by regions.ru. According to NTV, unknown assailants attacked Golovlev about three months ago, but the attack was foiled by Golovlev's dog.
Last fall, the Prosecutor-General's Office asked the Duma to lift Golovlev's immunity from prosecution in order to investigate his activities when he headed the Chelyabinsk Oblast State Property Committee in 1991-92 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December 2001). The Duma partially granted the request by authorizing prosecutors to proceed with an investigation.
Duma Deputy Mikhail Grishankov (People's Deputy), who formerly headed the oblast's Federal Security Service (FSB) organized-crime department, said that the case focused on the sale of 22 billion rubles ($700 million) worth of shares in the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Plant. According to Grishankov, authorities suspect that Golovlev transferred 89 packets of shares to a public social-security fund, which was later allegedly illegally privatized. Reportedly, shares in several other major enterprises in the oblast were also involved.
A representative of the Chelyabinsk Oblast Prosecutor's Office, Yurii Artsev, said on 21 August that the investigation into Golovlev's possible criminal activities had been closed as a result of his death.
...And Berezovskii Comments On Murder
Liberal Russia co-Chairman Boris Berezovskii told Ekho Moskvy radio that the murder of Golovlev "was carried out on orders from the Russian authorities in order to frighten the country's political elite." "Authoritarian states based on fear have their own laws.... In order to really frighten people, the order is given to murder a concrete individual," Berezovskii said.
Court Strikes Blow Against Stalling Mayors
The Sverdlovsk Oblast Court has ruled that provisions of the oblast law on local self-government that allowed mayors the choice of not enacting certain local laws contradicts federal legislation, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 August. Under the old law, mayors often squelched laws of which they did not approve by simply not signing them, since the law did not specify a deadline for them to do so if they declared that they intend to contest the law in court. The daily reported that Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, for example, has used the tactic to delay some local legislation as long as seven years, although he never filed any actual complaints. "As a result, it is useless for deputies to pass legislation that has not been previously agreed upon with the executive branch," said Sergei Belyaev, president of the Sutyazhnik society, who filed the suit. According to the paper, the oblast duma will amend the law on local self-government in its upcoming session, requiring mayors to sign legislation within a specified time frame and allowing them to contest laws in court only after they have come into force.
Chelyabinsk Official Calls For Fight Against Antigovernment Media Campaign
Authorities in Chelyabinsk Oblast have announced that they are going to fight what they termed a "black public-relations campaign" that oblast media outlets are waging against Russian President Vladimir Putin, the federal government, and oblast authorities, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 20 August, citing RIA-Novosti-Ural. Chelyabinsk Oblast First Deputy Governor Andrei Kosilov told RIA-Novosti-Ural that he has given the Russian presidential administration a package of publications that contain negative reports about Putin and his government, as well as about oblast officials. Kosilov said that such publications are destructive and contradict journalistic ethics. He added that the majority of the reports were published by media outlets owned by Russian State Duma Deputy Mikhail Yurevich.
As examples, Kosilov cited the Panorama television program aired by Media-tsentr, which allows people to voice direct threats against the Russian president or the oblast governor, and he cited the distribution of anti-Putin leaflets by the Liberal Russia and Democratic Union movements.
Kosilov said he believes that someone has paid to carry out this media campaign as a test to blackmail Russian authorities on the threshold of the next State Duma and presidential elections. He also called on the Russian presidential administration, the administration of the Ural Federal District, and oblast authorities to fight these actions.
Volga District Considering External Management For Municipal Bodies
Federal officials are currently examining the possibility of introducing external management to a number of municipal entities in the Volga Federal District, the chief federal inspector in Perm Oblast, Nikolai Fadeev, told Region-Inform-Perm on 19 August. Fadeev said the district's Strategic Research Center and Crisis-Management Center are currently working out the legal basis for introducing external management, while the presidential envoy to the district, Sergei Kirienko, has ordered all federal inspectors to select candidates for external management. Fadeev said he doesn't want the this measure to be introduced in Perm Oblast, naming instead the Chernushinskii and Chastinskii raions as potential candidates.
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova