President of Tatarstan Tells Putin Of Preparations For Celebrating Kazan's Millennium Anniversary

Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiyev on Tuesday told Vladimir Putin of preparations for 2005 celebrations of Kazan's millennium anniversary.

The head of Tatarstan considers that the most important thing is to make the people feel positive changes in the republic. In particular, according to him, 2005 is the final year of a programme to tear down ramshackle housing, under way for a seventh year.

Putin was particularly interested to know about progress in the construction of the underground in Kazan. Shaimiyev said that progress "is slow", due to "difficult soil conditions". Nevertheless Kazan is an old city, its streets are narrow, and it has transport problems," so the underground is badly needed, Shaimiyev emphasised. "If we put in some effort, then we will be able to complete the first stage by 2005," he said.

The Russian president wanted to know more about the economic situation in Tatarstan. Shaimiyev reported to him that in the first quarter of 2003 industrial production and population incomes grew by 5 per cent, adding that Tatarstan has seen steady economic growth since 1995. The head of the republic remarked that the republic contributed "more than 1 billion dollars a year" to the federal budget, and that Tatarstan had adopted a programme of social and economic development until 2006.

Putin noted that Shaimiyev "has managed to put together a good team of specialists and managers - the envy of any region".

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