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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 1, 2001

1 March 2001
Shaimiev Delivers Annual Message To Parliament
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 28 February told the State Council that "Tatarstan's sovereignty was and remains a basic concept providing a ground for internal policies, relations with Moscow, and foreign relations." He added that harmonization must be a two-way street and that the Tatarstan Constitution and the power sharing treaty continue to be "fundamental documents in relations with federal authorities." He said that some politicians are calling for Russia to be defined as a monoethnic and Orthodox country. He said that having two state languages is of priority for Tatarstan. He also said that "restoration of the Latin-based script" arises from the right of the Tatarstan to make choices for itself. And he called for the reform of the State Council to make the division of powers in the republic more consistent.

Shaimiev Promotes Tatarstan's Sovereignty
In his 27 February "Nezavisimaya gazeta" interview, President Mintimer Shaimiev praised Radio Liberty for broadcasting in Tatar and criticized Moscow for failing to provide Russia-wide Tatar-language broadcasts. He said Russia is not taking into consideration of the multi-national composition of its population. And he argued that federation together with freedom of speech are the only guarantees of democracy there.

Kirienko Says Passport Issue Resolved
Presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko on 1 March told "Rossiiskaya gazeta" that an agreement had been reached with Tatarstan's leaders on the format of the insert for new Russian passports. The document will not include a place for declaring a person's nationality but such an entry will be maintained in birth certificates. Kirienko said that it will take about a month to print the forms.

Tatneft To Drill 45 Wells In Iraq
Zarubezhneft has received the UN permission to organize the drilling of 45 wells by Tatneft in Iraq, Kazan's "Vremya i dengi" reported on 28 February.

Federal Transport Company To Purchase Two TU-214s
The chief constructor of the Tupolev design office Yuri Vorobyev on 23 February said that the state transport company Rossiya had purchased from the Kazan Gorbunov aircraft company two TU-214 planes, reported.

Gorky Railway Sued for Environmental Damage
Nature protection and natural resources minister Anatoly Shchepovskikh on 26 February said that a 49 million rubles suit has been filed against the Gorky railway Kazan department for damaging the environment, Tatar-inform reported.

Communications Providers Increase Cellular Roaming Range
Tatincom-T and BashYunisel, the Tatarstan and Bashkortostan cellular communications providers, have signed a new roaming agreement for users in the two republics, reported on 28 February.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tolkachev Outlines Legislative Tasks
During the State Assembly session, chairman Konstantin Tolkachev outlined the main tasks ahead for improving the republic's legislation, reported on 26 February. He said that it is particularly important to modify existing legislation to meet the recently amended republic constitution. He also called for revision of the laws on the republic's parliament.

Bashkir Legislators Offer to Mediate
During a meeting with legislative representatives from other parts of the Volga Federal District, Bashkir State Assembly members offered to "resume and expand the negotiation process between the center and territorial entities, [and] settle the legal contradictions by means of consent procedures, not by protests of prosecutors." They insisted that harmonization must be a fully bilateral process, one that permits the alteration of both regional and federal acts.

More Support for Teachers
On the eve of national protest actions by education sector employees on 27 February, education trade union chairwoman Svetlana Pronina met PM Rafael Baydavletov to discuss the social problems of Bashkortostan�s teachers. Baydavletov told Pronina that Ufa plans to improve pay for teachers, Bashinform reported. Pronina said that the republic government would also resume providing teachers with low-interest loans for buying apartments.

Ufa, Moscow in Conflict over Passport Line
Moscow has rejected the Ufa-proposed draft of inserts to new Russian passports to be issued in Bashkortostan, reported on 1 March. The Russian Interior Ministry refused to accept the draft because it includes an obligatory line for the bearer's nationality. Bashkortostan Prime Minister Baydavletov insists that every citizen has a right to express his nationality in his passport.

Tolkachev Says Some Politicians Sowing Discord
"Respublika Bashkortostan" on 27 February cited Bashkir parliamentary speaker Konstantin Tolkachev as having said that "some politicians" are trying to stir up interethnic tensions by playing on different interpretations of the republic constitution and its relationship to the federal one.

Local Press Improves Its Financial Situation
The Ministry of Press and Mass Media said on 23 February that in 2000 Bashkir newspapers had managed to preserve and increase their revenue the sale of advertising.

Agriculture Development Concept Approved
The Bashkir Cabinet of Ministers on 23 February endorsed an agricultural reform concept for the next five years.

Wage Arrears Decline
Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Policy Lev Bakusov said on 28 February that back wages still unpaid had declined from 1,4 billion ($5 million) in 1999 to 951 million rubles ($3,3 million) in 2000. He said that he hoped that this problem would be solved by the end of 2001.

Banks Violate Bookkeeping Rules reported on 26 that the number of administrative violations by Bashkir banks had increased 25 percent from 1999 to 2000.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Chuvashia Signs Agreement With Gazprom
The Gazprom press service on 22 February said that company head Rem Vyakhirev and Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov have signed a cooperation agreement for next five years, RBC reported. Under its terms, the republic has agreed to give the company tax breaks and also ensure payment by creating a special line item in the budget for paying Gazprom. Gazprom in turn must provide reliable service.

Chuvashia To Mark 450th Anniversary of Joining Russia
President Nikolai Fedorov on 27 February issued a decree calling for the celebration this summer of the 450th anniversary of Chuvashia's becoming part of Russia, reported. Patriarch Aleksii II said he will attend the event.

Chuvash Parliament To Discuss Guarantees For President...
The legislature will consider a draft law providing guarantees for the republic president after his retirement, reported on 28 February. The draft bill also reduces the number of voters needed to make an election valid from 50 to 35 percent.

...And President Addresses Annual Message To Parliament
President Nikolai Fedorov on 28 February said that construction of housing, roads, schools, and the connection of villages to gas are the republic's main social and economic priorities this year, ITAR-TASS reported.

Marii El President Meets Federal Officials
President Leonid Markelov reached agreement with the Russian finance ministry on an interest-free loan which will allow the republic to pay back wages and finance sowing campaign. He also met with social care and labor minister Aleksandr Pochinok to discuss financing republic social institutions and providing invalids with cars.

Marienergo Cuts Energy Supplies
Marienergo general manager Victor Kotikov on 27 February said that his company has reduced energy supply to the republic by a quarter and will cut it another quarter if it is not paid by the end of March, reported. He said that the debt now totals 946 million rubles ($34 million) and that some of the money has been owed for more than ten months.

Marii El Communists Hold Plenum
First deputy KPRF leader Valentin Kuptsov told a plenum of the republic Communist Party that Moscow's current reforms "contradict the interests of people" and said that the communists are in the process of forming a "shadow cabinet, reported on 27 February.

Mordovian Government Promotes Gas Connectivity
The Mordovian governmental press service on 25 February said that the republic government is committed to improving gas connectivity to rural areas by building 1600 kilometers of pipeline over the next two years, reported.

Mordovian Authorities Block Teachers Protest
Mordovian education trade union leader Petr Yerofeev on 27 February told that educational bodies officials have prohibited teachers from taking part in the country-wide protest action.

SPS to Aid Participants in Caucasus Military Operations
SPS leader in Mordovia Maksim Osovsky on 23 February told that his party will support students who earlier served in Chechnya and North Caucasus, giving them 1000 rubles ($35) a month until graduation.

Putin Thanks Mordovia Leader
Russian President Vladimir Putin officially thanked Nikolai Merkushkin "for the major contribution" he has made to the republic's development, "Izvestiya" reported on 28 February.

Kirienko Discusses Destruction of Chemical Weapons
Presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko on 1 March met with the heads of the District regions FSB boards devoted to the annihilation of chemical weapons, reported.

Ulyanovsk City Parliament Elects Chairman
Igor Morevnin, 41, who formerly headed the education department in the Ulyanovsk administration, on 26 February was elected speaker of the Ulyanovsk city duma, reported.

UAZ To Supply Russian Military With Jeeps
UAZ has won a tender to deliver 300 jeeps and 12 million rubles worth of spare parts to the Russian army, "Izvestia" reported on 24 February.

Student Convicted of Making False Bomb Threat
A 16-year- old secondary school student in Dimitrovgrad of Ulyanovsk oblast has been sentenced to nine months of imprisonment, 2 years of probation and 900 rubles ($34) fine for filing a false bomb report, VolgaInform reported on 27 February.

AvtoVAZ, GM Create Joint Venture
AvtoVAZ press center on 1 March said the two companies will begin working together in Tolyatti to produce up to 75,000 jeeps, reported.

Telephone Rates Increase Across Region
Telephone prices increased in March in Nizhny Novgorod and Orenburg oblasts by 20 percent and in Mordovia, Chuvashia and Marii El by some 10 percent, reported. Meanwhile, gas prices increased in parts of the region.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova