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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 6, 2004

6 January 2004
Shaimiev's Speech At Rakhimov's Inauguration Published
The Tatar presidential press service distributed to republican media on 5 January the text of a speech by President Mintimer Shaimiev during the inauguration of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov on 29 December in Ufa, reported the same day. Shaimiev mentioned several controversial issues in relations between the two republics. No live broadcast of the ceremony was available in Tatarstan and the Bashkir media didn't show or mention certain parts of Shaimiev's speech. Specifically, Shaimiev praised Rakhimov's promise to raise the status of the Tatar language in the republic, saying that the move that aroused enthusiasm among Tatars in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan would be a guarantee of the "strengthening of friendship between the two brotherly peoples." He also called for promoting common information, cultural, and economic space. In particular, Shaimiev suggested that Tatarstan's satellite television channel, Tatarstan-New Century, be broadcast in Bashkortostan, noting that Bashkir television is shown in Tatarstan. Shaimiev also referred to the 2002 census, saying, "attempts to interfere in a harsh manner in the course of the census, first of all made by politicized ethnologists, stimulated the growth of ethnic self-consciousness. The census showed that attempts to divide the peoples artificially are hopeless." Tatarstan's leaders repeatedly protested the Bashkir side's efforts to register Bashkortostan's Tatars as Bashkirs during the census in order to increase the share of the titular nationality in the republic, where Bashkirs are a minority.

Ukrtatnafta Opens Yet Another Gas Station In Ukrainian City Of Cherkassy
The Tatar-Ukrainian Ukrtatnafta joint venture launched a new gas station in Ukraine's Cherkassy that meets European standards, Tatar-inform reported on 5 January. The facility is equipped with an automatic managing system and high-speed filling and water-purification equipment. Ukrtatnafta currently has over 200 gas stations in Kyiv, Cherkassy, Poltava, Kremenchug, and other Ukrainian cities.

Tatneft Boosts Oil Reserves
Tatneft increased its extractable oil reserves by 30 million tons in 2003. In the past five years, the company has added 183 million tons of extractable reserves of oil while production has totaled about 122 million tons. The company began drilling at seven new sites in Tatarstan and is going to begin prospect boring in the Orenburg, Ulyanovsk, and Samara oblasts, and the republics of Kalmykia and Chuvashia.

Tatar Government Refuses To Merge Ak Bars, Zenit Banks
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told reporters on New Year's Eve that the Tatar government has given up on the idea of merging the Ak Bars and Zenit banks, Tatar-inform reported on 5 January. The project was promoted for three years and was scheduled to finish in 2003 but the Novolipetsh Metallurgy Plant that possesses a controlling interest in Zenit proposed conditions that were unacceptable in Tatarstan. A controlling stake in Zenit belongs to Tatneft, while in Ak Bars, Tatarstan has 16 percent that belongs to the Svyazinvestneftekhim holding. Minnikhanov added that the government does not seek a stake in Ak Bars and, on the contrary, will promote a reduction in its shares in order to attract foreign capital.

Ak Bars Bank's capital of 3 billion rubles is the 32nd largest among Russian banks, while its 23 billion rubles worth of assets are among the top 20 in Russia. The bank made a 304 million ruble profit in the first nine months of 2003. The Zenit bank has 3.2 billion rubles of capital and 27 billion rubles of assets. The bank made a 389 million ruble profit in 2002.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Safin Resumes Political Activity In Bashkortostan
Despite the official end of presidential elections in Bashkortostan, former candidate Relif Safin, who is Altai's representative on the Federation Council and a former vice president of LUKoil, has maintained a campaign office in Ufa, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 6 January. His representatives told RFE/RL that having reduced his staff in Ufa, Safin intends to resume his political activity by publishing newspapers in Russian, Tatar, and Bashkir for independent coverage of events in the republic.

On 29 December the Bashkir Supreme Court began hearing an appeal by Safin to annul the results of the presidential elections, RosBalt reported the same day. Safin presented to the court materials concerning over 700 alleged violations in more than 100 polling districts. Safin has said that he was cheated out of 100,000 votes. In the 7 December first round, Safin came in third with 23 percent of the vote, following Rakhimov with 42 percent and former Mezhprombank executive Sergei Veremeenko, who received 25 percent.

Prime Minister Cites Stable Economic Situation
Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov told the government meeting on 31 December that although the New Year holidays will delay tax revenues till mid-January, Bashkortostan's state employees will get their December salaries on time, Bashinform reported on 1 January. Baydavletov said that the republic's economic situation is "as stable as never before." According to his report, in 2004 Bashkortostan's budget spending will be 34 billion rubles ($1.1 billion).

Under the federal program on Bashkortostan's social and economic development, in 2004 the republic will receive more than 7.3 billion rubles ($240 million), Bashkir Satellite Television reported on 5 January.

Federal Government To Privatize Companies In The Republic
In 2004, 10 major state-owned enterprises in Bashkortostan, including the Ufa international airport, Bashkir Airlines, Ufa Equipment-building Factory, Kumertau Aviation Plant, Ufa Magnetron microelectronics plant, worth an estimated 2 billion rubles ($65 million) will be privatized, Bashinform reported on 4 January. These companies are currently owned by the federal government. About 2,000 of the federal government's enterprises will be privatized in Bashkortostan, bringing in no less than 40 billion rubles ($1.3 billion).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi