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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 6, 2004

6 April 2004
Foreign Investors Propose Candidates For Tatneft Board
For the first time in the company's history, foreign investors have proposed their candidates for Tatneft's board of directors to be elected on 25 June, "Vedomosti" wrote on 5 April. The company's management is reportedly concerned about independent directors sitting on the board in 2004, but it inevitably will have to fulfill this condition next year, as required by new American Securities Exchange Commission regulations. Tatneft is Russia's 6th major oil company with an annual output of some 24.5 million tons. In 2003, the company boosted its profits by 81 percent and its earnings reached $400 million. Thirty percent of the company's shares are owned by the Svyazinvestneftekhim holding established by the Tatar government, 8 percent by the company employees, and 6 percent by the TAIF group. The remainder is distributed among minor shareholders.

Street Sale Ban Leaves Thousands Of Kazan Families Without Income
A new law banning the sale of goods on the street will leave an army of sellers without any employment opportunities and increase the state's welfare burden, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 6 April. The decision of Kazan's city government and Tatarstan's cabinet to ban the street sale of food and consumer products has been explained by the need to create more civilized conditions for buyers and to make smallholders more competitive against growing chains of supermarkets. According to the daily, only a few Kazan street merchants can afford the $5,000 necessary for opening a kiosk. The daily also noted that despite the grim perspective, Tatarstan's agency for small business development has so far proved inefficient in solving the issue.

Turkish Religious Affairs Minister To Visit Kazan
Turkish Religious Affairs Minister Ali Bardakogly will arrive in Kazan on 8 April to meet with the heads of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Intertat reported. Bardakogly will also visit the Islamic College, Russia's Islamic University, the Mokhemmedie seminary, and the construction site of the Qol Sherif Mosque. During his four-day visit, the minister will also meet with the members of Tatarstan's cabinet, the Kazan city administration, and visit the ancient city of Bulgar, established by the forefathers of modern Tatars.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Former Ufa Administration Head's Election To City Council Annulled
A by-election for the Ufa City Council will be held in the Ufa electoral district in which former Ufa administration head Reuf Nogomanov won in the 14 March election, RosBalt reported on 5 April, citing the Bashkir Central Election Commission (USK). Nogomanov will not be able to participate in by-elections, according to an unidentified member of his campaign staff. The 14 March election results were annulled after the results from many of the district's polling stations were determined to be invalid. The USK reportedly revealed some 400 fake ballots in Nogomanov's favor. The news agency quoted the unidentified staffer as saying that the USK decision is politically motivated, as Nogomanov by a large majority and thus the 400 ballots did not considerably affect the final result. In addition, the staff representative said, election observers made no mention of the fake ballots. According to the staffer, the action is a move by the majority in the City Council to remove a disagreeable candidate. Nogomanov received 47.6 percent of votes, while his closest rival, pensioner Klavdia Palagicheva, collected 23.1 percent and businessman Alaga Mamed-ogly Kuliev 2.45 percent.

Bashkir Delegation In Netherlands To Study Agricultural Developments
A delegation headed by President Murtaza Rakhimov on 5 April began a five-day visit to the Netherlands, RosBalt reported, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. A framework for cooperation between the Bashkir government and Netherlands' Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality Ministry is scheduled to be signed during the visit. The delegation, which includes Deputy Prime Minister Shamil Wakhitov and Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Minister Boris Kolbin, is scheduled to meet with Russian Ambassador to the Netherlands Kirill Gevorgian and to visit agricultural companies.

UralSib Signs Credit Agreement With German Bank
The Bashkir UralSib bank and Germany's AKA Ausfuhrkredit-Gesellschaft GmbH banking concern on 5 April signed a 5 million euro ($6.01 million) credit agreement, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 6 April, citing AK&M. Under the document, AKA will finance 85 percent of long-term foreign-trade contracts of UralSib clients on the deliveries of goods from Germany to Russia under the guarantee of the German export-credit agency Euler-Hermes.

Tatar NGOs Prepare Days Of Bashkortostan's Tatars In Tatarstan
The Executive Committee of Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress during its 3 April meeting criticized committee Chairman Eduard Khemitov for disengaging himself from the organization's activities, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 5 April. Khemitov has not attended committee meetings for two months. It was decided to include the possibility of dismissing Khemitov on the agenda of the committee's next session. Participants also agreed on the necessity of continuing efforts to raise the status of the Tatar language in Bashkortostan and of collecting data about violations of human rights in the republic. The same day, the union of Bashkortostan's Tatar civic groups held a meeting in which the establishment of an independent Tatar newspaper in Bashkortostan and preparations for days of culture celebrating Bashkortostan's Tatars slated for this summer in Tatarstan were on the agenda. Tatarstan's trade and economic representative to Bashkortostan Ramil Bignov was appointed the head of the days' organizing committee.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova