President Mintimer Shaimiev of Tatarstan has reacted angrily to threats by the Russian government that could bankrupt two companies based on the territory of his republic. Tatarstan enjoys substantial autonomy within the Russian Federation and is one of only a handful of Russian regions that are net contributors to the federal budget. Shaimiev warned in a televised interview that, even if the Russian government goes ahead with its threat, Tatarstan will be "in no hurry" to carry out Moscow’s orders. He described the threat as an unlawful attempt by Moscow to put "political pressure" on Tatarstan. (NTV, October 26)
Last week, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that he was giving the giant KamAZ truck plant, which is located in Tatarstan, 24 hours to pay its tax arrears. If it did not, Chernomyrdin said, the government would launch proceedings to bankrupt the company, along with three other chronic tax dodgers. Earlier, the government had threatened to start similar proceedings against the Tatarstan oil company, Tatneft. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 16; Interfax, October 24) Protests by the government of Tatarstan resulted in Tatneft’s removal from the government’s black list. (Segodnya, October 18) KamAZ protested that its tax arrears were rescheduled under an April presidential decree, but Chernomyrdin has repeated his threat to shut the truck plant down if it does not pay its arrears. (Segodnya, October 26) Shaimiev has pointed out that KamAZ is the largest supplier of trucks not just to Russia, but also to the CIS and that, if KamAZ was bankrupted, transport of vital goods would grind to a halt throughout the CIS. (RTR, October 25)
New Strategic Submarine to be Built.