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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 27, 2004

27 May 2004
Prosecutor's Appeal Against Tatar President's Oath Rejected
The Tatar Supreme Court's Appeals Board on 24 May rejected a lawsuit by Tatar prosecutor Kafil Emirov against provisions of the law on the office of the Tatar president as contradicting federal legislation, "Kommersant" reported on 26 May. Emirov was targeting the text of the Tatar presidential oath, in which the president promises "to secure...state sovereignty of the Republic of Tatarstan." Emirov argued that the oath contradicts federal law, which rules out the existence of Tatarstan's sovereignty as only Russia as a whole can be sovereign. According to the oath, the president also promises to "observe the [Tatar] Constitution," a provision that was also contested by Emirov, who said the Tatar president must also observe the Russian Constitution, federal laws, and those of the federation subject, as well as decrees by the Russian president and Russian government resolutions. Presidential envoy to the court Andrei Oshchepkov asked the court to stop considering the case, as lawsuits against regional laws can only be heard by constitutional, not general courts, according to a ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court.

Farmers Come Out Against Cooperation With Krasnyi Vostok
Tatar Deputy Agriculture Minister Nikolai Yakushkin told "Kommersant-Daily" on 26 May that farmers in several Tatarstan raions are demanding that land they contributed to the initial capital of agrofirms established a year ago by the Krasnyi Vostok brewery and now owned by the brewery be returned to them. Last spring, Krasnyi Vostok established five agroindustrial companies in Tatarstan's Yeshel Uzen, Elki, and Yugary Oslan raions, bringing its possession of agricultural lands to 177,000 hectares. Farmers who contributed their lands to those companies received shares at a price of 3,000 rubles ($104) per hectare. This spring, farmers appealed to President Mintimer Shaimiev to return their land, but without success. Yakushkin said legislation does not provide the possibility of returning land and farmers can only leave the companies by selling their shares. The daily, however, cited ministry officials as saying privately that Krasnyi Vostok could voluntarily return 10,000 hectares in order to avoid a scandal.

Tatneft Believes Obstacle To Tupras Deal Temporary
An unnamed Tatneft representative in Turkey told "Kommersant-Daily" on 26 May that the oil company has appealed the 21 May verdict by the Ankara Municipal Court halting the sale of a 66 percent stake in the Turkish oil refinery Tupras to the alliance of Tatneft and the Turkey's Zorlu Holding group (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 May 2004). Tatneft believes the appeal will be satisfied within two or three days, the source said, adding that "the deal was agreed with the Turkish senior leadership." Tatneft was planning to hold a signing ceremony of the contract by the prime ministers of Tatarstan and Turkey on 31 May during celebrations of the Tatar national holiday Saban Tuye in Istanbul.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Arbitration Court Head Under Investigation
Court Chairman Fenil Safin is being investigated for possible involvement in corruption and abuse of power, RosBalt reported on 26 May, citing an unidentified Russian law enforcement source. Interior agencies are investigating several appeals from residents who claim that Safin abused his powers by promoting his and his relatives' interests. The investigation centers on events that took place during Safin's service as Arbitration Court head and as the republic's justice minister. Specifically, the legal nature of the appointment of Safin's brother, Segit Safin, as an Abjelil Raion Court judge is being questioned. The appointment has been deemed illegal by experts of the Bashkir Supreme Court but the Bashkir Judges Qualification Board disagreed with the conclusion and the issue is now being considered by Russia's Judges Qualification Board.

Saudi Arabians Show Interest In Bashkir Helicopter
A Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry delegation headed by Major General Dhafir Nagi al-Kahtani visited Bashkortostan on 24-26 May to study the possibility of purchasing aircraft from the Kumertau Aviation Plant, Interfax-Povolzhe and Bashinform reported. The delegation visited a plant that intends to bid for a Saudi government contract for helicopters. On 26 May, the delegation met with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Minister Boris Kolbin. Al Kahtani said during the meeting that the Ka-32 helicopters produced in Bashkortostan would meet his country's needs, as they can be used for emergency, fire prevention, and patrolling operations. The sides also stressed that closer cooperation between Bashkortostan and Saudi Arabia should be promoted.

Foreign Minister Cites Progress In Russia-OIC Relations
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov told a Russian government meeting on 25 May that Russia could become an observer in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) this summer, reported the same day. Lavrov said that during a meeting he had with an OIC delegation last week, the "OIC chairman and general secretary gave assurances that formal issues of Russia's joining as an observer will be resolved before the OIC conference" that will be held in Istanbul.

Heroin Seized In Ufa
A Tajikistan resident was arrested in Ufa after he allegedly attempted to sell some 6 kilograms of heroin for 210,000 rubles ($7,300), RosBalt and Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 25 and 26 May, respectively. The man has reportedly lived in Yekaterinburg for the past three years and was trafficking narcotics to Ufa. Police have reportedly been trailing him since early 2004. According to the reports, the man was transporting the heroin in a hiding place in his automobile. Approximately 260 narcotics-related criminal cases have been filed so far this year, and 53 people have been convicted and imprisoned on such charges.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova