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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 23, 2001

23 March 2001
CEC Monitors Pre-Election Press Coverage
Tatarstan's Central Election Committee issued a warning to the "Novaya Vecherka" weekly on 22 March for violating campaigning laws by publishing articles without indicating who had sponsored them. Meanwhile, President Mintimir Shaimiev said on 21 March that he plans to file suit against his rival Duma deputy Sergei Shashurin who has charged the incumbent with corruption.

Speaker Warns Against Russia Becoming a Unitary State
Tatar State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin in his interview with on 23 March said that attempts to make all regional legislation mirror federal laws would make Russia "a unitary state," eliminating chances for experimentation and progress and threatening democratic development.

Kiriyenko Praises Tatarstan�s Industry
During his visit to Tatarstan on 21-22 March, Russian Presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District said that the republic was "exemplary" in developing its oil and chemical industries. He also praised the efforts of KamAZ automotive company which has doubled its production each year. But he criticized the republic government for "ineffective management of transport corridors on the Volga and Kama rivers.

Budget Revenues Higher Than Expected in 2000
Finance Minster Robert Musin said that Tatarstan's budget revenues in 2000 had been far higher than expected. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov added that as a result the government had been able to pay workers and pensioners on time and to support agricultural producers.

Foreign Trade Up, More Investments Sought
Trade and Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov said on 20 March that Tatarstan had boosted its total foreign trade turnover in 2000 by 81 percent over the previous year. But State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin said that for further growth to be possible, the republic must attract more foreign investment.

Moscow Assists Kazan Millennium Preparations
The federal government's Regional Development Department chief Nikolay Korenev said in Kazan on 22 March that Moscow will transfer 1 billion rubles [$36 million] for reconstructing downtown Kazan in 2001 and a total of 65 billion rubles [$2,28 billion] will be allocated by Russian government for preparing the millenium celebrations by 2005.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov On Power Reforms
President Murtaza Rakhimov said in an interview published in the 17 March "Trud" that the regions were not trying to prevent the strengthening of vertical power in the country as some have charged. He said that tensions between Moscow and the regions could be creative rather than destructive, and he called for a clear delineation of functions and subordination of factories and government agencies. In other comments, he said that harmonization must be a two-way street.

Bashkortostan Participates in Small Businesses Congress
A delegation headed by deputy foreign relations and trade minister Robert Vagapov on 20-21 March took part in the second Russian-wide congress for the support of small businesses in Moscow, Bashinform reported.

Bashkortostan, China Negotiate Joint Printing Machine Production
Press and Mass Information Minister Zufar Timerbulatov on 20 March said that the republic plans to start joint production of printing equipment with the Chinese side at Sterlitamaq's Inmash plant, Bashinform reported. Timerbulatov said that many district and urban newspapers are still being printed on what he called "antediluvian" equipment.

Oktyabrsky, Moscow Plants To Cooperate In Elevators Production
A delegation of the Oktyabrsky special technology equipment plant OZSTO visited the Moscow Karacharov mechanical plant and the two signed an agreement on setting up joint production of passenger and cargo lifts in Oktyabrsky, "Oktyabrsky neftyanik" reported on 20 March.

Ufa Residents Do Not Know Their Rights as Consumers
Bashinform reported on 16 March that most Ufa residents are not adequately informed about their consumer rights. Only 16 percent know how they can protect their rights when they are restricted. And some 50 percent had never heard before that consumer rights exist.

Volga District Young Muslims Gather In Saratov
More than 300 delegates from Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Kalmykia, Mordovia, Samara, Astrakhan, Ulyanovsk, Penza, Volgograd oblasts, and Moscow gathered in Saratov for the Volga district young Muslims conference, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 March.

Separate Instruction Introduced for Boys and Girls
Bashkortostan is conducting an experiment on separate education of boys and girls in seven secondary educational institutions, "Kommersant" reported on 13 March. Economic lyceum director Fauziya Bulyakova said the new system had contributed to a dramatic improvement in student performance.

Government Concerned about Lack of Meters
Municipal services minister Pavel Kachkaev on 16 March said that only 40 percent of houses and 3.6 percent of apartments are equipped with cold water counters and 8.6 and 3.2 percent respectively with hot water counting devices. He said that it would cost 77 billion rubles to install hot water and heating counters throughout the republic.

Emergency Minister Heads Karate Federation
Emergency and civil defense minister Marat Magadeev was elected a president of the Bashkortostan karate federation, Bashinform reported on 19 March. He said that like his federal chief Sergei Shoigu who heads the Russian-wide karate federation, he intends to bring this sport to a higher level and to make it more accessible for the young.

National Clothes Manufacturers Increase Production
The Bashkir national clothes factory has more than doubled its production in 2000 and already increased it another 90 percent since the start of the year, Bashinform reported on 20 March.

Bashprombank Restructuring Ahead
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov met with the deputy general manager of the Credit Organizations Restructuring Agency ARKO Valery Miroshnikov to discuss restructuring the Bashprombank, Bashinform reported on 22 March. Miroshnikov said that the negotiations have brought to "real positive results� and that the sides agreed that the bank will support small businesses.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chuvashia's Fedorov Proposes New Presidential Election Law
President Nikolai Fedorov on 16 March introduced a draft law on presidential election that would allow elections to be valid if 25 percent, not 50 percent of the electors take part, reported. Anatoly Yegorov, the deputy head of the parliament's legislation committee, told that the draft turns elections into a farce and creates conditions for forging and bribery.

Marii El to Introduce Per-Minute Telephone Charges
Martelcom first deputy general manager Yuri Semenov on 21 March said that per-minute telephone charge will be introduced in Marii El urban areas Yoshkar-Ola, Volzhsk, Zvenigovo, and Kozmodemyansk in July, reported.

Finno-Ugric Writers Receive Prizes
The Finnish cultural society Kastrena on 20 March presented prizes to Aleksandr Doronin for a novel in Mordovian and to Zoya Dudina for an anthology in Marii, Komiinform reported.

Mordovia Leases Tractors From Belarus
Republic head Nikolai Merkushkin on 16 March said that the republic will lease 100 tractors Belarus under the agreement with the Belarusian concern Jenty, Stolitsa S reported. He said that buying directly from the Belarusian company is 25 percent cheaper for the republic than doing that through Russian federal bodies.

Soros Funds Projects In Mordovia
The Open Society Institute on 16 March announced that the institute has invested $3.4 million in the republic programs and supported nine rehabilitation projects.

Samara's Titov Visits Mordovia
Samara Governor Konstantin Titov on 16 March visited Mordovia to study the republic's experience in using imported agricultural machines, reported.

Mordovia Sets Up Law Enforcement Council
Republic head Nikolai Merkushkin has set up a council of law enforcement bodies which is intended to protect civil rights, fight crime, and respond to natural disasters.

Mordovia Parents, Teachers To Pay School Energy Debt
Schoolchildren, their parents, and teachers in Mordovia's Temnikov villages will help to pay the schools' energy debts and thus prevent them from being closed, reported on 20 March.

Energy Prices to Rise in Samara
The Samara regional energy commission announced that it will increase by electricity and heating prices for enterprises and residents by 15 percent as of 1 April, reported on 16 March.

Udmurtia's Mozhga Gets New Mayor
Sergei Pantyukhin, the head of the Mozhga municipal services department, was elected mayor of the city, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 March.

Right-Wing Movements Disband in Ulyanovsk
The heads of Democratic Russia, Democratic Reforms, the Social-Democrats, and the Republican party in Ulyanovsk oblast announced their dissolution and asked their followers to join the local branch of SPS, Ulyanovsk Segodnya reported on 19 March.

Needy Pensioners Given Free Dinners In Ulyanovsk Oblast
Dimitrovgrad businessmen have arranged free dinners for 100 poor pensioners every day, VolgaInform reported on 16 March. That is in addition to the 35 who were receiving free meals from the city budget since December 2000.

Tuberculosis Spreads in Ulyanovsk Oblast
The Ulyanovsk tuberculosis prophylactic center said on 20 March that the number of tuberculosis careers had doubled over the last decade among adults and had increased fourfold among children, VolgaInform reported. The center noted that Moscow has reduced financing for combating TB from 75 percent of the need in 2000 to 20 percent this year.

Ulyanovskenergo Shuts Off Power to Four Districts
Ulyanovskenergo on 20 March stopped energy deliveries to four districts in the oblast which collectively owe 90 million rubles, reported.

Ulyanovsk Speaker Unhappy with Ulyanovskenergo Re-subordination
Ulyanovsk oblast legislature speaker Sergei Ryabukhin on 19 March sharply criticized the decision to put Ulyanovskenergo under the control of the Srednevolzhskaya managing Energy Company because the new arrangement reduces the independence of the oblast, VolgaInform reported.

Urals University Criticized for Allowing Scientology Lectures
Aleksandr Dvorkin, the vice-president of the international center for contemporary sects studies, on 20 March called it "a disgrace" that the Urals State Unviersity had allowed a Scientology group to give lectures at the school, Religion-Inform reported. Dvorkin was in Yekaterinburg at the invitation of Archbishop Vikenty of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotur.

Combination of Volga, Ural Military Districts Postponed
The Ural Information Bureau on 20 March cited senior military officials as saying that merging of the Volga and Ural military districts initially scheduled for June has now been postponed until fall.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova