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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 11, 2004

11 June 2004
Tatneft Disappointed Over Tupras Deal Freeze
The Tatneft oil company expressed its disappointment in the 3 June ruling of Turkey's Supreme Court annulling the results of the 13 January tender on the sale of some 66 percent of Turkey's leading oil refinery Tupras to the alliance between Tatneft's German affiliate Efremov Kautchuk and the Turkish Zorlu financial/industrial group, Tatar media reported on 11 June, citing the company's press service. In a statement, Tatneft insisted that the price offered by the alliance fully corresponded to Turkish law and the deal was transparent to the public. The company also announced that it has consulted with Societe Generale Corporate and Investment Banking and Purvin & Gertz for developing Tupras's plan of investment-based development. Tatneft also pledged to defend the interests of Tupras employees and minority shareholders and ensure stable oil supplies to refineries if the deal is finally cleared.

Trade Unions Oppose Federal Social-Policy Reform
Tatarstan's Trade Unions Federation gathered some 1,000 supporters in Kazan on 10 June as part of a national demonstration against the current reform aiming to cancel most existing social benefits, while handed over what remains to the regions, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The unions also protested the privatization of state schools and further increase in housing tariffs, as well as budget cuts in the social and cultural sectors. Tatar Trade Unions Federation Chairwoman Tatyana Vodopyanova said at the demonstration that through its actions, the government is denying its responsibility for social policies and therefore refusing to consider social security a matter of state priority. As a result, the unions publicly demanded that the federal government not adopt laws infringing on the rights of citizens.

Defenders Of Kazan To Get Monument By 2005
A special Tatar government commission chose and approved a future monument to defenders of the Kazan khanate who resisted conquest by Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, Tatarinform reported on 10 June. After some five years of deliberations in public and government circles, it was agreed that the monument would be made of three pillars with a common glass top, which is to signify the spiritual strength and unity of Kazan's defenders. The monument is to be completed by the millennium anniversary of the Tatar capital in 2005. The monument to Russian soldiers and peoples of the Volga area who stormed Kazan in 1552 was erected soon after the fall of the Kazan khanate.

Kazan Islamic University To Expand
Tatar Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva and Kazan Mayor Qamil Iskaqov met with Russian Islamic University officials on 10 June to discuss future expansion of the Kazan-based university that would make it the biggest Islamic education center in Russia, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The university, which currently has 200 students and one building, is expected to have several more buildings, its own mosque, a dormitory, and a hospital. In future, the Islamic University will open a faculty for female students and a branch in Tatarstan's second city, Chally.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Government Resolves Hunger Strike At Entertainment Center
After a statement by President Murtaza Rakhimov that he is following the situation of the Ogni Ufy (Ufa's Lights) entertainment center, the opening of which was denied by Ufa city officials, on 10 June a special state commission agreed to make a final decision on the center, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported today. Staff at the Ogni Ufy had declared a hunger strike to protest the refusal of city officials to approve the building for commercial use. The employees alleged that the approval was rejected because of the center's major investor, Mezhprombank, which was formerly managed by Sergei Veremeenko, who ran against Rakhimov in the December presidential election. In a 9 June statement, President Rakhimov said he will take stern action against any officials found guilty of persecuting the company for political reasons. However, he noted that "from time to time, he had the impression that the center was constructed in a way [that would] ensure it is not certified for service." In Rakhimov's words, after he won the election he demanded that republican officials "take care of what has to be corrected in the everyday life of the republic and avoid persecuting" those who supported other candidates in the presidential election.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi