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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 1, 2004

1 July 2004
Kazakh President's Visit To Tatarstan Continues
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who is on a three-day visit to Tatarstan, met on 30 June with his Tatar counterpart Mintimer Shaimiev, took part in a conference on Eurasianism, and attended an exposition at the Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant, Tatar and Russian media reported. Nazarbaev said during a press conference following his talks with Shaimiev that trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Russia grew in 2003 by 30 percent to $5.3 billion, but added that Tatarstan accounts for only $150 million of that amount, which he described as "too small." Nazarbaev said Tatarstan is Russia's strongest region, and that the republic can do much to increase trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Russia. He called for cooperation between Kazakh manufacturers with Tatarstan's KamAZ truckmaker, petrochemical companies, and aircraft-construction industry. Shaimiev thanked Nazarbaev for the support that the 230,000-stong Tatar diaspora living in Kazakhstan receives. Asked whether Kazakhstan will introduce a Latin script, Nazarbaev said this is possible in the future but that such a transition would be gradual process. Delivering a speech at a conference on Eurasianism, Nazarbaev said spiritual integration between Turkic peoples is needed in the current era of globalization to maintain unity, integrity of languages, and common cultures. The presidents agreed that days of Tatarstan in Kazakhstan will be held in late 2004 and days of Kazakhstan in Tatarstan will be held next year.

Reputed Organized-Crime Members To Appear In Court
The Chally Prosecutor's Office passed on to the Tatar Supreme Court a criminal case against alleged members of an organized crime group called the 29th Complex, which is named after a Chally district, reported on 30 June. The group is accused of carrying out kidnappings, thefts, extortion, fraud, and arson. At present 33 alleged members of the group are under arrest, and another nine are wanted. In the course of a three-year investigation, 21 murders were disclosed, and eight bodies of people believed to have been killed by group members were found.

German Citizen's Lawyer Criticizes His Client's Treatment
Lawyer Sergei Pronin, who is representing German citizen Uve Kruger who is accused of illegally purchasing explosives, said at a 30 June hearing at the Tuben Kama city court that it took him two months to find where Kruger was being kept and that his client had to begin a hunger strike to demand that he be allowed to meet with his lawyer, and "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 30 June and 1 July, respectively. The court at its previous hearing on 26 April satisfied Pronin's appeal that Kruger be moved to his own cell at the Tuben Kama detention facility. But the prosecutor's office in fact moved Kruger to the Minzele pretrial detention facility. Pronin said he was not informed about his location and could not meet with him. Pronin demanded that Kruger receive a medical exam. However, based on the opinions of doctors at the courtroom, the court ruled that he does not need a medical examination.

Pronin told "Kommersant-Povolzhe" on 1 July that Kruger plans to make public instances of violations of his rights and will send his appeal to Russian media outlets. Tuben Kama Deputy Prosecutor Olga Kupova told the daily that Pronin's efforts to meet with his client were not hindered, and that Kruger's rights have not been violated.

Kruger came to Russia as a tourist and was arrested on 6 May 2003. He reportedly said he sought explosives because he planned to destroy his home in order to receive an insurance settlement.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Direct Flight To Start Between Ufa And Vienna
A direct flight from Ufa to Vienna will be opened, RosBalt reported on 30 June, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. The agreement was made after President Murtaza Rakhimov visited Austria on 26-29 June and discussed the project with the Austrian vice chancellor and other officials. Both sides agreed that details of the project will be on the agenda of the vice chancellor's planned visit to Bashkortostan.

UralSib, Bashkir Government Sign Cooperation Agreement
Two major shareholders of the UralSib bank -- the financial corporation UralSib and the Bashkir government -- have agreed on further cooperation, according to a document signed on 30 June by UralSib President Nikolai Tsvetkov and Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov. UralSib will attract investments to republican projects, including the federal socioeconomic development program in Bashkortostan, up until 2006. On 29 June, the annual shareholders meeting of the UralSib bank upheld the bank's merger with the NIKoil investment bank and Avtobank-NIKoil. Tsvetkov said the corporation has opened a mortgage crediting center in Ufa.

Shareholders decided to allocate 20 percent of the company's net 770 million rubles ($26.5 million) profit for repayment of dividends. The Bashkir government is represented in the bank's new board of directors by Prime Minister Baidavletov, Finance Minister Airat Geskerov, Property Relations Minister Zofer Ebdrekhimov, and Economic Development and Industry Minister Valentin Vlasov. The shareholders meeting elected also a new observation council of the bank from which UralSib's former President Azat Qormanaev was expelled.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova