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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 9, 2001

9 March 2001
CEC Looks into Opposition Press
A working group of the republic Central Election Committee met on 6 March to discuss the legality of recent publications in "Kazanskoye Vremya," "Novaya Vecherka" and "Pryamaya Rech" weeklies, RFE\RL Kazan's bureau reported. Some working group members said that criticism contained in the paper violated election laws because it was made not by other candidates but by the media. The CEC issued an official warning on the subject, saying that such abuse of freedom of speech is unacceptable.

Tatarstan Deputies Loose Immunity
According to "Respublika Tatarstan" on 6 March, none of the State Council deputies "have tried to oppose the recent verdict of Vakhitov district court in Kazan abolishing the legal immunity of members of Tatarstan's parliament." The paper said that the court had concluded that the republic law on deputy immunity contradicted federal legislation and thus was null and avoid. In other comments, the paper said that opposition deputy Aleksandr Shtanin had called for each deputy to have one full-time and three volunteer assistants to help with legislative work.

Russian Passports Reportedly Being Printed For Tatarstan and Bashkortostan
�Moskovsky Komsomolets v Tatarstane" reported on 8 March that despite the continuing discussions on the shape of future Russian passports to be issued in the republics, blank documents are already being printed by the Gosznak factory in Perm. The paper noted that Russian presidential representative in Volga administrative district Sergey Kiriyenko has said that the blanks for Tatarstan and Bashkortostan will be printed within next 1,5 months.

Tatarstan's Contemporary History Textbook Appears
The State Council presented the newest schoolbook on Tatarstan history on 6 March, RFE\RL's Kazan Bureau reported. Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin and his colleagues praised the work for its coverage of developments in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Teachers present said that the book filled important gaps in the knowledge of their students.

Government to Sell Off More State-Owned Companies
The State Property Committee intends to sell the state-owned shares packages in KOMZ optics plant, Santechpribor medical instruments factory, Tatarstan Air Company, Kazan airport, a number of bakeries across the republic, and the Zey confectionery, Tatarinform reported on 5 March.

'Fatherland' Backs Shaimiev
The Tatarstan branch of Otechestvo said on 3 March that it will support the reelection of President Mintimir Shaimiev. The same day, the party reappointed Duma deputy Farida Gaynullina as the republic branch's chairperson.

Federal Inspector Concerned With Religious Affairs
Chief federal inspector Marsel Galimardanov met the leader of Kazan synagogue Iskhak Gorelik on 6 March. Galimardanov said after the meeting that Gorelik "had reported no governmental pressure on his religious organization." At the same time, the inspector said that confessions of Tatarstan had differing problems, for example Moslem leaders wished to obtain official licenses for teaching some of the unreligious subjects in the Islamic University.

More Housing for Tatarstan Residents
Construction Minister Ildus Shaidullin said on 2 March that the state will provide 46,000 families with free apartments by 2004.

Rural Families Lag in Phone Hookups
Approximately 60 percent of urban families now have telephones at home but only about 20 percent of rural families do, according the republic's communications ministry in a 2 March report. The ministry hopes to increase the percentages of both as well as promote cellular links.

VideoConferencing to Help Doctors Provide Better Service
Doctors at Kazan's interregional diagnostic clinic can now use videoconferencing technology to examine patients in outlying areas of the republic and beyond, local news outlets reported on 6 March.

Security Measures Reduce Tatenergo Losses
Improved security activities cut the theft of equipment from Tatenergo by 50 percent last year, the company said on 1 March.

Leading Women of Tatarstan Identified
On International Women's Day on 8 March, "Vostochniy Express" listed the most popular women of Tatarstan. Leading the list were deputy prime minister Adelya Konyusheva and a group of media personalities.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Harmonization Most Advanced in Volga Region...
Aleksandr Listkov, Nizhny Novgorod oblast parliament deputy speaker and a member of the trilateral commission uniting representatives of the Russian President, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan authority bodies, said on 5 March that the Volga Federal Districts leads the harmonization process in Russia. Only three percent of 800 acts in the Volga Federal District remain to be harmonized. As for Tatarstan and Bashkortostan legal acts, he said, 90 percent of them have been harmonized, with the rest still under review by judicial authorities.

...As Harmonization Commission Completes Its Work...
The bilateral harmonization commission of Ufa and Nizhny Novgorod on 28 February proposed amendments to 12 federal acts including laws on power sharing and state pensions as well as the civil, budget, and tax codes, the presidential press service reported. The commission's final report notes that it has called for amendments to 28 federal actions and recommended that Moscow adopt nine Bashkortostan laws for the federation as a whole.

...But Problems Remain
Speaker Konstantin Tolkachev on 1 March said Moscow media blame the regions for problems in the harmonization process but in fact the problems arise from the absence of federal actions in areas the regions and republics have adopted legislation. He noted, for example, that 31 Bashkortostan laws have no federal anologues.

Bashkortostan Residents Call For Referendum
An initiative group headed by Bashkir University professor Marat Kulsharipov on 6 March announced that it will seek a referendum on the nationality entry in the new Russian passport and also on procedure of amending the Bashkortostan Constitution, Bashinform reported. The group's members want amendments to the republic Constitution to be adopted only by republic-wide referendums.

SANYO Interested in Bashkortostan Market
A delegation of the Japanese SANYO company visiting Ufa on 6 March said that the company considers the region one of its "strategic" marketing targets for the future, Bashinform reported.

Bashkortostan, Czech Republic To Create Joint Venture
Bashkortostan's Gazservice general manager Nikolai Kryukov and the Czech Republic�s Sepramo head Zur Martin have signed an agreement setting up a joint venture to produce, repair and service gas equipment, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported on 1 March.

Youth Unemployment Falls...
The state youth affairs committee on 2 March said that unemployment among young people had declined by 41 percent from 1999 to 2000 and now stands at 7500, Bashinform reported.

...But New HIV Cases Increase
The AIDS prevention center on 27 February reported that the number of those infected with HIV in Ufa had grown by 14 percent within the last week alone, Bashinform reported. In the whole republic, 680 residents are currently infected and four have died since the beginning of 2001.

Bashkir Paintings Displayed by Lithuanian Embassy
An exhibition of Bashkir painter Albert Murzagulov has opened in the Lithuanian embassy in Moscow, Bashinform reported on 6 March. The painter-produced landscapes of Bashkortostan and as well Lithuania, which he calls his second motherland.

Bashkortostan Archivists Issue New Journal
The Russian Historians and Archivists society in Bashkortostan has launched a new journal "Archives of Bashkortostan," Bashinform reported on 7 March. The republic government will finance the project in 2001.

Tuimazy Gets New Symbol
After a competition, the Tuimazy urban administration has selected from over a hundred of drafts the work of Yuri Lapshin, a painter residing in the Oktyabrsky urban area, Bashinform reported on 7 March.

Communists Demonstrate in Ufa
Communists on 3 March held a meeting in Ufa to protest policies of the Russian and Bashkortostan governments, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chuvash President Unhappy With Local Bank Rearrangement
President Nikolai Fedorov on 3 March sharply criticized Moscow's policies on subordination of local enterprises to federal bodies calling it "a dangerous and extreme step which can harm federation entities and all of Russia," ITAR-TASS reported. He said that as a result of such rearrangements, Chuvashsberbank has become an affiliate of the Volga-Vyatka saving bank and other republic enterprises, including the Cheboksary liquor-vodka plant and Chuvashsvyazinform, will suffer the same fate and thus reduce the taxes they pay to the region's budget.

Berezovsky Seeks to Purchase Khimprom Shares
Acting Khimprom general manager Viktor Tarkhov said on 7 March in Cheboksary that Boris Berezovsky is trying to purchase a stake in Khimprom. Tarkhov said that the company does not plan any reduction of employees engaged in production but it had already cut the number of managerial personnel. He said that Khimprom plans to change its relations with joint venture companies, including DuPont, which have resulted in losses. And he complained that Moscow is not paying for the destruction of chemical weapons production facilities.

Marii El Parliament Adopts Budget
The legislature has passed a draft budget on two readings, reported on 1 March. Economics and industry minister Mikhail Kalinov said that republic economy is among the least good in the Volga District and that more than half of its enterprises are not making a profit. Per capita incomes fell last year by 38 percent.

Marii El Delegation Visits Komi Republic.
First deputy government head Nikolai Kuklin on a visit to Syktyvkar agreed with Komi Republic leaders that 40 million rubles' worth of housing will be constructed in Marii El for Komi Republic residents as a part of the program to resettle people from the North, reported on 7 March.

Marii El Trade Unions Protest Prices Rise
Republic trade unions on 7 March appealed to the republic government and the Yoshkar-Ola urban assembly against recent price increases for gas, municipal services, energy, and communications, arguing that this violated a trilateral agreement of the government, trade unions and employers, reported. Promised government subsidies are only 10 percent of what is needed, the unions said.

A Stalin Monument in Saransk?
The Saransk city council on 2 March discussed the issue on erecting bust of Joseph Stalin in the Mordovian capital but postponed a vote on the subject until the opinions of the people can be solicited, reported. The proposal was made by KPRF members who said that a sense of historical fairness means that "we do not have the right to forget our past especially since under Stalin's rule the country achieved unprecedented success." The communists also called for renaming one of Saransk's main streets after Stalin. The city council did agree to renamed one street after Mordovia's Soviet-era communist leader Anatoly Berezin

Mordovian Bodies Concerned With Wahhabism
The Mordovian anti-terrorist commission on 6 March discussed prevention of religious extremism and especially wahhabism in the republic, reported.

Journalist Disappears in Nizhny After Criticizing Governor
Nizhny Novgorod TV company director Yelena Lebedeva on 7 March said that journalist Gennady Grigoryev had disappeared on 3 March just after the local TV had shown the Gigoryev-produced interview of Sergei Kirienko where presidential Volga District envoy sharply criticized Nnizhny Novgorod oblast governor Ivan Sklyarov, reported. His apartment was ransacked and his video archive stolen. The chief editor of the television channel Alena Makarova said that Grigoryev had received threats that he and his colleagues would be treated just like journalists in Ukraine and Belarus if they do not change their approach.

Kirienko Visits Udmurtia
Presidential Volga District representative Sergei Kirienko on 2 March said that this year Udmurtia will receive 177 million rubles ($6 million) from the federal budget for destroying chemical weapons and to protect those living near existing stocks. In other comments, he said that "one should not be afraid if FSB officers come to power in the next elections."

Gas Deliveries to Ulyanovsk Resume
Ulyanovskregiongaz spokeswoman Yelena Polyanskova on 7 March told that the company had resumed gas supply for Ulyanovskenergo under guarantees by the oblast administration to pay off the Ulyanovskenergo by 19 March. On 6 March, when Ulyanovskregiongaz had stopped supplying local energy company, Ulyanovsk residents apartments have been disconnected from heating, hot water, and electricity.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova