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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 27, 2002

27 December 2002
Parliament Fails To Resolve Property Dispute Between Republican Government And Municipalities
The 23 December session of Tatarstan's State Council postponed hearings on the draft laws on privatization and management of state property for the second time, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 27 December. A parliamentary session on 2 October revealed strong disagreement among the deputies, who failed to agree on what is to be considered state property. The draft bills submitted by the Cabinet of Ministers reportedly suggested that, according to the Tatar Constitution, public property is to be regarded as state property and therefore should be managed by republican authorities. Meanwhile, Tatar municipal and regional administrations claim that public property should fall under their jurisdiction because of the recent ruling by the Russian Supreme Court certifying it as municipal property.

Tatarstan's Economic Performance In 2002 Reported As Stable...
Tatar Minister of Economy and Industry Aleksei Pakhomov told a press conference on 24 December that in 2002 the fuel, chemical, oil-processing, timber, and food industries remained the locomotives of the republic's industrial development, showing higher output compared to previous years, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 27 December. Meanwhile, electric-engineering, machinery, and consumer-goods producers, as well as the construction and agricultural industries faced a slight decrease.

According to the minister, the prices of consumer goods rose by 13.7 percent from January to November 2002, while the costs of services grew by an average of 29.5 percent. However, incomes in Tatarstan rose only by 9.5 percent year-on-year, with the average monthly salary at 3,909 rubles ($123)

...As Are Foreign Economic Activities
Tatar Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Khafiz Salikhov told a press conference on 25 December that during the first nine months of 2002 Tatarstan managed to attract more than $330 million in investment, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 27 December. Salikhov added that during the last two months of this year the amount of additional investments will give Tatarstan a total figure "not lower" that the previous year's $600 million.

The republic's foreign trade is expected to reach $106.58 million this year, which is 8.4 percent higher than in 2001. Exports, largely of raw materials, still represent the bulk of trade at 88.4 percent.

Daily: TAIF To Dump Santel GSM
According to "Vremya novostei" on 23 December, Moscow's MTS mobile communications provider is likely to take over the Santel GSM network in Tatarstan currently owned by the influential TAIF group, which is run by Radik Shaimiev, President Mintimer Shaimiev's son. Although TAIF reportedly refused to reveal the price of the network, the amount is reportedly declining from the $100 million estimated in early 2002, as Vimpelkom's BeeLine-GSM is acquiring more customers in the formerly monopolized region. Santel had been the only GSM provider in Tatarstan since 1998 and boasts to have more than 240,000 subscribers, while newcomer BeeLine made a good start by attracting 50,000 since September 2002.

Tatneft Pulls Out Of Tender In Move To Speed Up Refinery Project
Tatar oil major Tatneft recalled its bid for the tender on extracting three new deposits discovered in the republic, TatNews reported on 23 December. The company's explanation was the "necessity to accumulate funds for further construction of the Tuben Kama oil refinery" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 December 2002). Four small private oil companies remain in the bidding for the tender. The deposits reportedly include complicated geographical and geological conditions for drilling and extracting.

KamAZ Halts Production
Operation of the foundry, forge, mechanical workshops, and main assembly conveyor of the KamAZ automotive concern will be halted from 23 December until 13 January 2003 due to a drastic slump in sales typical for the beginning of the year, according to a KamAZ press release on 23 December. About 1,000 heavy trucks are already stockpiled at the company's warehouse and the production halt is intended to cut energy expenses, while workers will reportedly be given leave with pay.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Promotes Federalism In Russia
In an interview published in "Ekspert: Ural" on 23 December, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said a federation should be formed by strong regions that have real powers, adding that he supports the intention by Russian President Vladimir Putin to clearly define the separation of powers among all levels of authority in the country. Rakhimov also said it was important to follow the main principles of federalism, especially establishing a balance of economic and political interests between the regions and the country as a whole. Rakhimov criticized political forces calling for the abolishment of the country's republics or the division of the country into "seven, 20, or 28 parts." "Federalism is an invaluable national asset that should be preserved and strengthened," Rakhimov added.

Parliamentary Election Slated For 16 March
The Bashkir State Assembly has confirmed that parliamentary elections will be held in the republic on 16 March, RosBalt reported on 25 December. The current legislature's term expires on 14 March.

Legislature Passes Balanced Budget For 2003
The Bashkir State Assembly's upper chamber passed on 25 December a balanced republican budget for 2003, Bashinform reported the same day. According to the budget, revenues and expenditures for 2003 will both total 25.7 billion rubles ($806.6 million).

Federal Official Approves Of Bashkir Constitution
Bashkortostan's envoy to the Russian president, Albert Kharisov, told "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 25 December that the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitrii Kozak, has said that the republic's newly adopted constitution fully conforms with the federal one. Kozak made his comments at a recent meeting involving Kharisov and President Rakhimov, Kharisov said. The republican legislature passed the new version of the Bashkir Constitution on 3 December.

NefAZ To Open Assembly Line In Kemerovo
Kemerovo Oblast Deputy Governor Aleksandr Kopylov said on 24 December that Bashkortostan's NefAZ bus manufacturer plans to open an assembly line at the Kemerovo Avtoagregat plant, RIA-Novosti-Sibir reported the same day. Kopylov said the plant has agreed with KamAZ on the provision of chassis to be used in the production of NefAZ buses. A further 13 companies from the oblast are also expected to play a role in the project.

Opposition Backing Common Candidate For President
The opposition Equality movement, made up of the Russian civic group Rus and the Yabloko party in Bashkortostan, as well as the Tatar Public Center in Bashkortostan, have decided to back Aleksandr Arinin, a former State Duma deputy from Bashkortostan and director of the Moscow Institute of Federalism Issues, as a common opposition candidate in the 2003 republican presidential elections, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 23 December. Arinin has reportedly been taking Bashkir lessons, since the republican constitution requires presidential candidates to speak both Bashkir and Russian. Arinin also ran for president in the last election, but the Bashkir Election Commission voided his registration, a move that was later found to have been illegal (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 14 March 2002).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chelyabinsk Plant Obtains $50 Million EBRD Credit
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Chelyabinsk Tube-Rolling Mill signed a 6 1/2-year $50 million credit agreement, reported on 24 December. The project will finance programs on modernizing production, saving energy, and protection of the environment. Plant board chairman Andrei Komarov said the funds will be used to re-equip the plant's two workshops and to bring production of pipes for the petrochemical industry to 75,000 tons a year. Under the agreement, the plant will replace its open-hearth furnaces as part of a EBRD environmental program.

Presidential Envoy Calls For Teaching Cultural Principles Of All Traditional Religions
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Volga Federal District Orthodox Youth Congress in the Mordovian capital Saransk on 20 December, presidential envoy Sergei Kirienko spoke in favor of introducing to the secondary-school curriculum the subject "Principles of religious culture," and not "Orthodox culture" as was recently proposed by the Russian Education Ministry, reported on 23 December. Kirienko said the state should promote moral and ethical education and create possibilities to study principles of all the traditional religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

GAZ Assembles Volga For Iraq
The Gorkii Automotive Plant (GAZ) began assembly of Volga cars for Iraq, Nizhnii Novgorod news service reported on 24 December. The GAZ-3110 model due to be exported was modified to meet Iraq's climate conditions. A contract on delivery of 5,000 Volga vehicles was signed with the Iraqi Trade Ministry in September 2001.

Civic Activists Seek To Investigate Raduev's Death
Sergei Isaev and Yevgenii Kozminykh, leaders of Perm Oblast human rights organizations, appealed to oblast prosecutor Aleksandr Kandalov to provide them with documents concerning the death in Solikamsk penitentiary of Chechen fighter Salman Raduev, who was buried in a prison cemetery on 17 December, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 20 December. Isaev and Kozminykh said they seek to hold their own investigation into the case as official comments on Raduev's death were unclear, which inspired a lot of rumors and speculation. According to the official version, Raduev died of "internal bleeding," while the media speculated about fasting, beatings, and other possible reasons.

Saratov Communists Promote Construction Of Stalin Monument
State Duma Deputy and first secretary of the Communist Party in Saratov Oblast Valerii Rashkin and oblast duma deputy and Communist oblast committee secretary Olga Alimova at a press conference on 23 December called for a monument to be built commemorating Josef Stalin in Saratov's Victory Park, Saratovbusinessconsulting reported the same day. The idea was proposed in the 18 December issue of the local "Zemskoe obozrenie" paper by a group of civic leaders. Rashkin and Alimova suggested that the construction be sponsored by private donations and be completed by the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2005.

Soldiers Desert Over Hazing In Sverdlovsk Oblast
Deputy Military Prosecutor of the Volga-Ural Military District Vladimir Kapralov said all 13 deserters who left their unit in the village of Gagarskii in Sverdlovsk Oblast on 19 December came to the military prosecutors' office to give themselves up and were sent to another military unit, "Novyi region" reported on 21 December. The soldiers deserted to protest hazing ("dedovshchina") by other soldiers, who have been indicted on criminal charges. The soldiers won't be charged with desertion since desertion can only be filed after two days' absence, Kapralov said.

Yekaterinburg Civic Activists Back Air-Traffic Controllers Action
Human rights activists representing Uralproftsentr on 23 December launched more than 100 balloons filled with helium over Yekaterinburg's Koltsovo Airport to support the labor action and hunger strike by Koltsovo air-traffic controllers, "Novyi region" reported the same day. The activists sought to fill airliner routes with balloons to impede their landing and block the airport's work. No aircraft took off or landed during the action, the agency said.

Air-traffic controllers in some 40 Russian cities began a hunger strike on 22 December to protest low wages. The action was stopped on 25 December after an agreement was signed in Moscow between the State Civil Aviation Service, the State Corporation on Air Traffic Management, and trade unions to increase the wages of corporation employees and controllers by some 16 and 27 percent, respectively.

Chemical Weapons To Be Destroyed In Storage Places
Russian Agency on Ammunition General Director Zinovii Pak announced on 23 December a new scheme for the destruction of Russian chemical weapons, "Kommersant" reported the next day. According to the plan, all of the chemical agents will be destroyed where they are stored and won't be transported to the Shchuchye chemical plant in Kurganskaya Oblast as was originally planned. Pak said the new plan will allow the whole destruction process to be accelerated. The United States, Germany, and other donor countries that earlier agreed to help Russia destroy its chemical weapons will sponsor the construction of plants in those places, Pak said. Russia's chemical weapons are kept in Maradykovskii in Kirov Oblast (6,960 tons), Leonidovka in Penzenskaya Oblast (6,880 tons), Shchuchye in Kurganskaya Oblast (5,440 tons), Kizner (5,680 tons) and Kambarka (6,360 tons) in Udmurtia, Gornyi in Saratov Oblast (1,142 tons), and Pochep in Bryanks Oblast (7,520 tons).

The previous option of the program for destroying the chemical weapons included the construction of three plants, in Gornyi, Kambarka, and Shchuchye. The first of them, in Gornyi, was launched the week before. Germany allocated 40 million euros ($41.5 million) to the facility, the total cost of which is 5 billion rubles ($157 million).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova