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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 18, 2001

18 August 2001
Incomes in Tatarstan Predicted To Fall
First Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry Alevtina Kudryavtseva said on 14 August that redistribution of the natural resources tax imposed on Tatarstan's oil extractors would drastically reduce the incomes of republican budget. She said that beginning from 1 January 2002 Moscow will take 80% of the oil tax revenues which previously were equally divided between the republic and the federation.

In its turn the weekly "Zvezda Povolzhya" published a gloomy forecast for Tatarstan's economy this autumn, predicting that it will face drastic slumps and growing pressure from the federal government.

Free Medicines Program Stumbles Due To Local Administrations' Faults
Tatarstan's government maintains subsidies providing pensioners and other socially unprotected segments of the population with free medicines, the daily "Vremya i Dengi" reported on 17 August. But regional administrations are failing to coordinate their activities with the government and provide timely delivery of medicines to drugstores.

Republic's First Satellite TV Station Ready To Operate
A State Commission chaired by Tatarstan's Deputy Minister of Communications, Vladimir Yakimov, granted a validity certificate to the new broadcasting station, which is to transmit the signal of republic's New Century TV to the TV satellite beginning from 30 August 2001. The station will air its first test broadcast on Tatarstan's Sovereignty Declaration Day and launch regular programming after obtaining the necessary licenses from the Russian government.

Chally Heating Company To Face Bankruptcy
Tatarstan's Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told a governmental meeting on 15 August in Chally that the city's heat and hot water supply company must be liquidated in order to revive it and avoid the situation that occurred in Russia's Far East last winter. The enterprise's huge debts to Tatenergo are the result of the unwillingness of Chally residents to pay their bills.

First Stage Of Subway Construction Completed
Kazan Subway constructors finished excavating the distance between first two stations, Tukay square and Sukonnaya Sloboda, on 16 August. Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov attended the ceremony of linking the two stations. The subway project was launched in 1997.

Kazan Gangsters Arrested In Resort Area
Tatarstan's Interior Ministry have succeeded in arresting three active members of the Kazan-based Zhilka mafia group in Sevastopol, Crimea, republican media reported on 14 August. Despite its current weakened state, Zhilka is considered to be one of the most influential mob groups in Russia.

Traffic Slump Doesn't Affect Incomes Growth At Kazan Airport
Kazan International Airport officials announced on 13 August that its revenues grew by 60% during the first half of 2001 and reached 25 million rubles [$860,000] despite a general decrease in air traffic. Due to the hike in aircraft fuel prices a number of Russian regional air companies have abolished their flights to and via Kazan.

Tuben Kama Chemical Co Reports Growing Profits, Plans To Enter European Markets
The Tuben Kama Petro-Chemical Company Directors Board stated on 16 August that its profits reached 1,5 billion rubles [$51 million] during the first half of 2001. The board also agreed on establishing a special company for promoting Tuben Kama-produced rubber in Europe.

Half Of The Crops Harvested
Tatarstan's farmers have harvested about 50% of the agricultural lands, obtaining 2.5 million tons of grain, Tatarinform reported on 17 August. Alekseyevsk, Apas, Biyektau, Kaybish, Nurlat, Saba and Layesh regions lead the harvesting race with the most grain gathered.

Chinese Province To Establish Direct Ties With TR
A delegation of the Lanjou city administration from China's Gansu province is due to arrive in Kazan on 18 August to discuss bilateral trade opportunities with local and republican officials.

Oil Stolen From Pipeline In Tukay Region
Tatneft oil company discovered an unsanctioned connection to its oil pipelines in the Tukay region of the TR on 13 August. The plug-in was found after inspection of an oil leak site which attracted the attention of local people. Oil company officials stated the same day that it is impossible to estimate the amount of oil that was stolen.

By Iskender Nurmi

Scientist Says Russia No Longer A Superpower
The dean of the Historical Faculty of the Bashkir State University, Marat Kulsharipov, told RFE'RL's Ufa correspondent on 13 August that Russia is becoming a state controlled by the army and the police. He criticized the emergence of top military officers in federal and regional governments, adding that Russia can no longer regard itself a superpower because it did so only relying on its nuclear arsenal, rather than on the actual wealth and living conditions of its people.

Public Organizations Complain About Human Rights Abuse
The suit of the Tatar Public Center and the Rus organization against Bashkortostan's Justice Ministry was rejected by the republic's Supreme Court on 14 August, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Both organizations complained that they received warnings from the ministry after holding an unsanctioned protest during the recent session of the Bashkortostan People's Assembly. In their words, the city administration made it impossible to appeal for permission to hold the event on the day of the assembly. Nevertheless the Justice Ministry said in its warning that the organizations could be abolished in the event that they repeat similar protest actions.

Right after the court hearing TPC and Rus leaders told RFE/RL that human rights are seriously violated in the BR because it is impossible to hold any protest activities against its government. They will reportedly appeal on this matter to the Russian Supreme Court.

One Year After Kursk Incident Sailor's Widow Says Military Officials Paid No Attention
The widow of Fenis Ishmuratov, one of the crew of the Kursk submarine, said in her 13 August interview with the newspaper "Respublika Bashkortostan" newspaper that the republican government was very helpful to her family during the entire year since the incident. Saime Ishmuratova also emphasized that she even received Christmas greeting cards from U.S. Navy officers' families, but has never received any communication from the local military commissioner's office, which usually represents the Russian armed forces.

Tatars In Bashkortostan Support The Switch To Latin Tatar Script
A number of Tatar organizations in Bashkortostan have asked the government of the Tatarstan Republic to expedite the switchover to Latin Tatar script, noting that discussions on whether the process is necessary are "groundless." They stated that Latin Tatar alphabet is a useful instrument for promoting high technologies among Tatars, and computers could help accomplish the switchover faster.

Rakhimov Criticizes School System
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent quoted President Murtaza Rakhimov on 14 August as criticizing the existing education system "because it does not meet the requirements of real life, for example modern students can solve different scientific tasks, but are unable to calculate the amount of wall paper for decorating a room." He also referred to the poor health condition of teenagers, stating that according to the opinion polls 20% of them tried beer when they were 11 and 13% tried drugs at the age of 14. Quite expectably only 20% of schoolchildren are in good health.

Prime Minister Says Bashkortostan Needs More Private Farmers
Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov told a government meeting on 16 August that private farming "has not yet manage to develop." He admitted that the chiefs of state-owned collective farms oppose the private businessmen, creating obstacles to their effective work.

Bashkortostan To Produce Its Own Electricity
Two hydroelectric power plants will be launched in the Beloretsk region of the BR in September 2001, Bashinform reported on 16 August.

By Iskender Nurmi

Chelyabinsk Oblast Cannot Hold Referendum On Spent Nuclear Fuel Imports
The Chelyabinsk State Legal Board and the Legislation Committee of the oblast parliament said that a referendum concerning imports of spent nuclear fuel to Russia cannot be held in the oblast as the issue lies within the competence of federal bodies, reported on 10 August. Those bodies pointed out that regional authorities can only hold a poll of local residents that will have no juridical consequences. Previously Chelybinsk deputies called for such a referendum in the oblast where the Mayak plant, the only Russian facility for utilization of nuclear fuel, is located.

Teterin Will Run For Marii El President
General Ivan Teterin, the head of the Emergency Situations Ministry's North-Caucasus regional center and a former Marii El presidential candidate, said that he will run for president in the next elections in that republic, reported on 13 August. He criticized the republic's authorities, saying that the region's GDP so far this year total only 95.8 percent compared with the same period last year. He said it is "nonsense" that not a single one of the republic's representatives to the Federation Council actually lives in Marii El. He said that any civilized person should study the language spoken on the territory where he lives, but noted that nobody should be forced to do so. He said that not only representatives of the Mari people support him and that he has never been a follower of the national idea, which has visibly discredited itself in Chechnya. He noted that Maris account for less than 10 percent of the personnel of state and government bodies in the republic, noting that such underrepresentation could have negative repercussions in future [correct?].

Media Reliability During Governorial Elections In Nizhnii Assessed
The Nizhnii Novgorod Professional Alliance of PR representatives, MediaUnion, and the Nizhnii Novgorod public council True Elections have published their evaluation of the relative objectivity and truthfulness of local media during the recent gubernatorial election campaign, the Nizhnii Novgorod Telegraph Agency reported on 13 August. The authors noted that construing freedom of speech as freedom to engage in libel is as harmful for society as censorship. Among the most outrageous lies published they cited a report that the Russian presidential administration had discussed transferring the capital of the Volga federal district to Samara or Saratov [correct?].

Ayatskov Proposes To Cut Official Salaries
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov has proposed cutting salaries for state and municipal officials, and first of all, for the oblast governor, in order to reduce budget expenses, reported on 13 August. His proposal came in response to an appeal by several administration heads to revise the oblast budget in order to increase funding for energy resources. Saratov, Engels, and Balakovo owe together 1.7 billion rubles ($58.6 million) for consumed energy.

Austrian Militants' Memory Preserved In Yekaterinburg
A remembrance plaque was formally unveiled in Yekaterinburg on 12 August to commemorate Austrian prisoners of WWI and WWII, Region-Inform reported on 13 August. Austrian Ambassador Frants Sede, Sverdlovsk Oblast Deputy Prime Minister Semen Spektor and World War II veterans from Austria were in attendance. Spektor thanked visitors for their attention to the graves of Russian soldiers in Austria.

Sverdlovsk Authorities Concerned About Sharp Growth Of Alcohol, Tobacco Consumption, Drug Addiction, HIV Statistics
Sverdlovsk Oblast Prime Minister Aleksei Vorobev said that alcohol consumption has increased in the oblast by 32 percent since 2000 and currently totals 18 liters per resident compared to the national average of 8 liters, Region-Inform reported on 13 August. Every third woman and two of every three men are smokers, more than 300,000 oblast residents are drug addicts, and some 10,000 are HIV-positive, he said, and called on all the republic's enterprises to take measures to counter drug abuse.

Mother Of Soldier Killed In Chechnya Wins Suit Against Defense Ministry
The Krasnokamsk city court in Perm Oblast has satisfied a suit by Maria Vershinina against the Defense Ministry and sentenced the latter to pay 50,000 rubles in compensation for the death of the plaintiff's son in Chechnya, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 13 August. Sergei Vershinin was killed by a sniper in October 1999 in the Chechen village of Bamut. He had served only 145 days since being called up. His commanders violated the law according to which servicemen can be sent to hot spots only after at least 12 months of army service.

Perm Oblast Governor Says Power-Sharing Treaties Will Be Annulled
Perm Oblast Governor Yuri Trutnev said on 13 August that all existing power-sharing treaties will be annulled, Region-Inform-Perm reported. Trutnev was the first among governors who initiated the annulment of bilateral treaties with Moscow and now, he said, his initiative been formalized by [correct?] a presidential decision so everybody will have to follow it. But he added that there are some finer points to be resolved with regard to some federation subjects.

Ecologists Protest Utilization Of Rocket Fuel In Udmurtia
The ecological movement held a march in the Udmurtia town of Votkinsk protesting the construction of a plant utilizing rocket fuel, reported on 14 August. The protesters blocked a road connecting Votkinsk with Udmurtia's capital, Izhevsk, for several hours and demanded that the chief federal inspector in Udmurtia meet with them.

By Gulnara Khasanova