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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 4, 2004

4 June 2004
Conference Discusses Reform Of Tatar Script
Political science researcher Rafiq Mokhemmetshin said in his report to a conference in Kazan on 3 June devoted to the establishment of civil society in multiethnic and multiconfessional regions that the reform of the Tatar script, which is promoted by Tatarstan and strongly opposed by Moscow, mostly consisted of political, rather than linguistic factors, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 2 June. He said that the scientific component of the transition from Cyrillic to Latin-based Tatar script is understudied, while federal government regards the reform as a way of increasing Turkey's influence on Tatar society.

Moscow State Institute of International Relations professor Aleksei Malashenko told the same conference that the situation of ethnic rights in modern Russia's society is alarming and needs to be discussed more often at forums such as the recent one held by the Carnegie Foundation and the Kazan Institute of Federalism (see "RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 June 2004).

State Council Urges Moscow For A More Flexible Oil Tax
Tatarstan's State Council on 3 June appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the government seeking a different approach regarding the taxation of the industry, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The statement said that given the current standardized tax rate, Tatarstan will have to shut down all of its low-output oil wells, which will cut output by 3.5 million tons of oil annually, eliminate some 20,000 jobs, and wipe out some $90 million in republican tax revenues.

President Pushes His Own Variant Of Audit Chamber Law
The Tatar parliament on 3 June agreed with the president's amendments to the draft law on the republican Audit Chamber, which is to replace the existing Committee of Parliamentary Control, and passed the legislation in its second reading, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. In the first reading, the document was passed stipulating that the Audit Chamber would be a state body controlled by parliament, but the president insisted that the organ be formed by the State Council and not subject to any specific branch of government.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Three Bashkir Petrochemical Companies To Be Taken Over By Gazprom
Bashkir petrochemical companies Kauchuk, Kaustik, and Salawatnefteorgsintez will be taken in trust management by Gazprom, RosBalt reported on 3 June, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. The subject was discussed during a meeting between Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and Gazprom Chairman Aleksandr Ryazanov the previous day in Moscow. Last summer, Gazprom official Aleksandr Krasnenkov stated that the gas monopoly is seeking to take over controlling interests in Kaustik and Kauchuk. Currently, Gazprom is keeping in trust management a 54-percent stake in Salawatnefteorgsintez.

Technimont To Construct Polyethylene Line At Salawatnefteorgsintez
Salawatnefteorgsintez General Director Marat Ishmiyarov and Italy's Technimont President Rozario Alessandrello signed on 3 June in Moscow a contract on the construction of a new polyethylene production line at Salawatnefteorgsintez, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 4 June. Some $100 million will be invested into the production line with a capacity of 120,000 tons of polyethylene a year, of which $80 million will be provided in credits by Italian banks. Salawatnefteorgsintez Chairman Aleksandr Ryazanov said during the signing ceremony that it came in the wake of Gazprom's intention to optimize the Bashkir company's capabilities and "to increase its export potential."

Rakhimov Meets Russian Prime Minister, Arbitration Court Head In Moscow
President Rakhimov met with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov on 2 June in Moscow and asked him to supervise the situation of appointing the head of the Tax Ministry's Bashkir board, RosBalt reported on 3 June. Rakhimov said the "reshuffle of heads in the [board] definitely does not favor increasing budget revenues." After Reshit Sattarov was dismissed in March 2003 from the position, it was occupied in March-December by Aleksandr Veremeenko, whose brother Sergei ran for Bashkir president in December. In January, Olga Afanaseva was appointed acting head of the board.

Meeting with Supreme Arbitration Court Chairman Veniamin Yakovlev the same day in Moscow, Rakhimov focused on the situation involving Bashkir Arbitration Court Chairman Fenil Safin, who is facing charges of corruption and abuse of power. Rakhimov said it looks like investigators are "working in spurts" and called the procedures around Safin "strange."

Yabloko Loses Suit Against Results Of December Duma Elections In Bashkortostan
The Bashkir Supreme Court has rejected lawsuits by Yabloko in Bashkortostan against the December State Duma elections in the Ordzhonikidze, Sovetskii, and Kumertau single-mandate districts, RosBalt reported on 1 June. Leaders of Yabloko's republican branch were seeking annulment of the election results on the basis of violations witnessed by its observers during the elections. The head of Yabloko in Bashkortostan, Igor Rabinovich, said the court considered the observations invalid as they were not officially registered. Such registration is the duty of election commissions but they usually avoid it, Rabinovich said. He said the party's lawsuit was rejected not for its substance but for formal reasons. In the State Duma elections in Bashkortostan, Unified Russia won with 38.9 percent, followed by the Communist Party with 13 percent, the Liberal Democratic Party with 10.9 percent, and Motherland with 6.5 percent. Yabloko came in sixth with 3.6 percent.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova