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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 8, 2004

8 January 2004
Fifty Apply To Run For State Council In Single-Mandate Districts
Fifty people have applied so far to Tatarstan's Central Election Commission (USK) to run for the State Council in single-mandate districts, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 6 January, citing the USK. Half of them were proposed by the Party of Life, while the others are independents. The State Council campaign began in Tatarstan on 28 December. In the republic's 50 electoral districts, 50 single-mandate deputies will be elected and the same number will be elected from party lists. To be represented in the parliament, parties must receive more than 7 percent of the vote. Local parliamentary elections will be held on 14 March together with the Russian presidential elections.

Government To Reduce Number of State-Owned Companies
The Tatar Property Ministry said that only 35 of the republic's 925 currently state-owned companies will be kept, Tatarinform reported on 6 January. In 2003, 173 state-owned companies were reformed, 125 privatized, 19 closed, and 29 reorganized, while 15 filed for bankruptcy. Another 354 state-owned companies are being reformed. State-owned companies brought in 59 million rubles in revenue to the republican budget in 2003, up from the 25 million rubles planned for.

Kazan Company To Supply Ural Federal District Schools With Computers
Kazan's ICL-KPO VS computer plant won a tender to provide computers to Ural Federal District secondary schools, Tatarinform reported on 6 January. In the past four years, ICL-KPO VS has provided over 20,000 computers to secondary schools in Tatarstan and the Volga and Far East federal districts. Under the new contract, the company will deliver 5,500 computers in the first half of the year.

Soviet Communist Party Documents Declassified
The Tatar Cabinet of Ministers' Chief Archive Directorate has declassified over the past 10 years 17,000 archive files that were marked previously as "secret" and "top secret," reported on 6 January. The documents cover the activities of the Tatar Oblast Committee and city and raion committees of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union until 1972. At its last meeting, the directorate's declassification commission considered the correspondence between the Tatar Oblast Committee and the USSR's Academy of Sciences concerning unique telescopes produced at the Kazan optical-engineering plant that were used by the Saturn astronomy station.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Monthly Raises Serious Allegations Against Bashkir President
Having won the 21 December presidential elections, Bashkortostan's Murtaza Rakhimov will manage to rule the republic for as long as 18 years, the monthly "Sovershenno Sekretno" wrote in its January issue. The monthly claimed that Rakhimov's victory occurred only because of excessive violations during the vote count.

In 13 years of Rakhimov's leadership in Bashkortostan, one of Europe's major petrochemical industry complexes, with an annual processing capacity of 50 million tons of oil, is said to have reduced its output by several times, as only 40 out of 200 of the oil products remained on it production list.

According to the monthly, famous for its independent investigations, the Russian Audit Chamber and Russian Tax Ministry discovered that the complicated schemes for privatizing Bashkortostan's petrochemical industry complex were made by Rakhimov's son, Ural, who is the chairman of the Bashkir Fuel Company's and Bashkirenergo's board of directors. As a result of the schemes, the federal budget reportedly lost out on at least $115 million in privatization revenues. In addition, Bashkortostan's oil processing industries were accused of tax evasion for registering their Ufa-based production facilities in Kazakhstan's Baikonur offshore zone, in a sum of $400 million.

Despite the republic's industrial might, 90 percent of its population reportedly earns less than $100 per month and 40 percent less than $33. Thirty percent of the work-age population is unemployed in the region formerly known for training high-qualified personnel for various industrial branches.

"Sovershenno Sekretno" cited former presidential candidate and member of Mezhprombank's board of directors, Sergei Veremeenko, as saying that in 2002-2003 Ural Rakhimov ordered Bashneft to sell the monthly amount of some 500,000 to 670,000 tons of oil to 11 private mediating companies for "a favorable price" 30-50 percent lower than the market price for processing at the Ufa oil processing plant and the Salavatnefteorgsintez chemical plant. The mediator companies reportedly owned by Rakhimov's associates, such as Uralneftekhim and Neftek, are alleged to have shared the difference between the purchase price and the final price with the Bashkir president's son. As a result of these operations, Ural's team is suspected of illegally acquiring some $30 million each month.

In addition, Ufa petrochemical plants are also reported to have assisted the aforementioned mediating companies by concealing some 10 percent of the oil produced, while the technological process admits losing only some 3 percent of the raw material during processing. The sale of unaccounted oil products is alleged by some to bring the organizers of the scheme some $100 million per month. These large amounts of money are thought by some to be the reason Rakhimov is willing to go to great lengths to remain in power (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 December 2003).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi