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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 15, 2001

15 February 2001
Shaimiev Comments on Russian Reforms
President Mintimer Shaimiev told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 9 February that weak regions cannot form a strong Russia and that a common legal and financial space must not serve to weaken entities. He expressed his doubt that appointment of Moscovites to the Federation Council in place of governors will live up to expectations. In other comments, he said that land reform should take place within a year. And he said he saw no reasons for the dismissal of the entire Russian government.

Russians Unhappy With Shaimiev's Power-Sharing Concept
Saratov governor Dmitry Ayatskov, Duma federation and regional policies committee head Leonid Ivanchenko and head of the department of Federation, Nationalities and Migration Policies Ministry Beslan Bargandzhia on 14 February denied that they were attempting to project federal power over local bodies, reported. They made these comments in response to the draft power-sharing conception developed by the State Council working group headed by President Mintimer Shaimiev. All of them opposed the concept's suggestion that local legislation should take precedence over federal laws in the governance of local issues.

Parliamentary Official Comments On Language Issues
Midkhat Kurmanov, head of the parliamentary legislation commission, told "Vostochny ekspress� on 9 February that Tatarstan should appeal to the Russian Constitutional Court against the republic Supreme Court's decision against requiring presidential candidates to speak both Russian and Tatar. He said that the legal arrangements concerning languages at both the federal and republic levels were still confused. The paper itself reported that 59 percent of 150 respondents believe that Tatarstan's president should speak at least some Tatar. In other comments, Kurmanov said that there was no constitutional basis for Moscow's campaign against the Latinization of the Tatar script.

Prosecutor Ready To Cooperate With Harmonization Commission
Republic prosecutor Kafil Amirov told Tatar television on 11 February that harmonization results have been satisfactory. He said that his office has lodged only 110 protests against the entire range of normative acts surveyed: 236 laws, 271 presidential decrees, and more than 4,000 government resolutions. In other comments, he called for the appointment of a Moscow or district coordinator on harmonization. And he said that restrictions against legislators serving in the executive branch will apply only after the next round of elections.

Kazan Mayor Visits Cairo
Kazan mayor Kamil Iskhakov is participating in the ninth conference of Islamic capitals and cities in Cairo, Tatar-inform reported on 13 February.

Tatneft Joins Ruble Bond Market
Tatneft has issued 200 million rubles worth of coupon bonds, reported on 12 February. The company's general manager Shafagat Takhautdinov said that if the issue proves successful, Tatneft plans to bring the volume of borrowing to 1 billion rubles.

Duma Budget Committee Backs Tax Breaks For KamAZ
The State Duma budget committee recommended introducing tax breaks on securities operations for KamAZ, reported on 12 February.

Tatflot Head Fired
The government on 9 February dismissed Tatflot general manager Rashid Safin for failure to pay wages in due time, Tatar Television reported.

Kidnappers Put on Trial
The Tatarstan Supreme Court on 13 February opened the trial on the kidnapping of Chally resident Anatoly Geller, Kazan's "Vremya i dengi" reported. The son of Chally administration official, Geller was kidnapped in 1999 reportedly on the orders order of Chechen field commander Khattab and spent two months in captivity in Urus-Martan. He was freed in September 1999 when his father paid $320,000 to the kidnappers. Three of them, Chally residents brothers Sherali and Ilkhom Shukurovs and Maksim Gaponov, were detained last autumn and are now on trial.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Federal Legislators Examine Ufa's Harmonization Progress
The bilateral Russian-Bashkir commission on harmonization agreed during a 6-8 February meeting in Ufa that Duma committees would consider Bashkortostan's legislation in a dozen areas to see if it could be applied at the federal level. Meanwhile, Legislative Chamber deputy chairman Minnirais Ishmuratov told Bashinform on 9 February that the bilateral commission "did a good job analyzing the harmonization process. By the deadline on 1 March all the contradicting laws will be brought in conformity." He said the harmonization process would be completed by 24 February.

Commission Looks to Support Languages
Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov chaired the governmental commission on languages of Bashkortostan Republic on 8 February. The meeting considered how to promote the development of all languages in the republic. Some regional administration heads in attendance said that the number of students studying their native languages had declined. The commission for its part recommended that local administrations should translate formal documents and street names into Bashkir.

Railroad Equipment Wearing Out
Kuybishev railroads Bashkir section chief Nikolay Protasov said on 8 February that equipment in his area was wearing out and that there was not enough being spent on repairs. He said that the federal budget had provided Bashkortostan with only 23 million rubles ($800,000) for maintaining suburban trains last year but that the line itself had had to spend almost eight times that amount to keep the trains moving.

Farmers Still Unable To Switch To Gas
Farmers are not able to afford connection costs -- up to $350 -- to the republic's gas network, "Respublika Bashkortostan" reported on 9 February. As a result, the number of new users is rising extremely slowly, the paper said.

Business Taxes Increase -- and More Go to Moscow
The Bashkortostan branch of the Russian Tax Service announced on 9 February that taxes on company profits have gone up five percent and that the proportion of the 35 percent tax going to Moscow had risen from 11 to 19 percent.

Children's Health Problems Worry WHO Expert
Elsa Akhmadeeva, an expert of the World Health Organization, said in Ufa on 11 February that she found the state of children's health in Bashkortostan to be "catastrophic." And she expressed particular concern about the rising number of abandoned children.

Bashkir Soldiers Decorated for Chechen Service
Five Bashkortostan citizens were given the highest combat award of the Russian army for their roles in Chechnya, Bashinform reported on 9 February. One of the Hero of Russia awards was given posthumously.

Ufa Officials Receive Awards from Orthodox Church
Ufa Bishop Nikon presented Anvar Muratshin, the chief of the republic's Council on Religious Affairs, and his deputy Vladimir Pyatkov with the Order of Daniil of Moscow on 12 February. The award, presented on behalf of Patriarch Aleksii II, was given for what the church said was the officials' "attention to the needs of believers in Ufa."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

New Appointments in Chuvashia Presidential Administration
President Nikolai Fedorov has named Galina Nikolaeva to the newly created position of first deputy head of his administration. Meanwhile, he also appointed State Press Committee head Valery Andreev to be deputy administration head, naming former deputy sports minister Yuri Nikolaev in his place.

Chuvashia Official Announces Forming Opposition
Deputy speaker Nikolai Stepanov who have recently lost in his attempt to become Cheboksary mayor said on 8 February that he will not run for president or support Duma deputy (Communist) Valentin Shurchanov for the job because of the latter's failure to support him the mayoralty elections, reported. Instead, he said that he will set up a "third force" in the republic. He also said that at the next State Council session, speaker Nikolai Ivanov will be replaced by government head Enver Ablyakimov and interior minister Vadim Antonov will be named prime minister.

Marii El CEC Chairman Detained
The republic's anti-organized crime board on 8 February arrested in Yoshkar-Ola Marii El CEC chairman Yuri Petrov on suspicion of taking bribes, reported. President Leonid Markelov told RIA-Novosti on 10 February that Petrov's arrest was not politically motivated

Markelov Seeks Indictment of Predecessor
Markelov said that the republic's total debt is now 20 billion rubles as a result of corruption which flourished during his predecessor's time in office. He said that Kislytsin had turned the republic into "a criminal place." Noting that it is "tactless" to begin one's term by prosecuting his predecessor, Markelov said he had no choice but to turn over evidence of malfeasance by Kislytsin to prosecutors.

Markelov Concerned by Energy Debts
Markelov also said that the republic won't be able to repay its 833 million rubles debt to the United Energy Systems without restructuring. He added that the District head Sergei Kirienko backs him in the relations with UES.

Mordovia's Merkushkin Meets Kasyanov
Mordovia head Nikolai Merkushkin on 9 February met with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to discuss several businesses, Stolitsa S reported. The two also discussed the work of the Greater Volga association and the timing of Kasyanov�s expected visit to Mordovia.

Russian Prosecutor Unhappy With Mordovia on Fighting Crime
Deputy Prosecutor General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev on 14 February during a visit to Mordovia criticized republic prosecutors for failing to do more to fight crime, Stolitsa S reported.

Human Rights Defender Says Authorities Control Courts
The head of the Mordovian human rights center Vasily Guslyannikov on 11 February told that republic authorities, and especially executive bodies, "totally control the courts" and that "telephone law" still remains in force. He added that a judge in one district was fired last week for failing to obey a telephone directive.

Mordovia Has Highest Mortality Rate in Russia
Mordovian University specialists told on 14 February told that the republic has the highest mortality rate in Russia at 15.2 per 1,000 population per year.

Federal Inspector Promotes Harmonization
Sergei Chikurov, the chief federal inspector in Udmurtia, on 9 February met in Votkinsk with the heads of federal bodies in the republic to discuss cooperation with local self-government bodies, reported. Udmurtia prosecutor Vladimir Zykin said "we have full mutual understanding with the chief inspector concerning harmonization of republic and municipal legislation with federal acts."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova