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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 5, 2004

5 August 2004
Great Volga Route Conference Starts In St. Petersburg
The international conference "The Great Volga Route" officially opened on 4 August in St. Petersburg's Smolnyi Palace, reported the same day. In greeting the forum participants, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev noted that the conference, held under the aegis of UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and Organization of the Islamic Conference's International Research Center for Islamic Culture and Art, promotes development of cultural and scientific cooperation between different countries and dialogue on the ethnocultural, environmental, and socioeconomic issues of cities and regions of the Volga Route. He expressed confidence that the forum will contribute to the revival of the Great Volga Route as a bridge between cultures and civilizations.

The conference program includes a roundtable titled "The Great Volga Route and Prospects for Civilized Tourism" and a roundtable on the development of interregional cooperation as a basis for the economic development of Great Volga Route regions.

The route of the current conference began in Staraya Ladoga, passes through St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, and Nizhnii Novgorod and is scheduled to end in Kazan on 10 August. At the project's previous stages, conference participants traveled from Kazan to Astrakhan, from St. Petersburg to Stockholm, and from Astrakhan to Tehran.

Shipbuilding Plants To Construct Two Ships For Export
The Yeshel Uzen Gorkii shipbuilding plant has begun constructing two Rusich dry-cargo ships, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 3 August. The ships are being built for two unnamed foreign companies that signed contracts in late June that extend to late 2005.

YelAZ Named Possible Partner Of South Korean Automobile Companies
Russian Industry and Energy Ministry's Industry Department deputy head Nikolai Sorokin said South Korean car producers are interested in developing a large car-manufacturing project in Russia that may be located in the Alabuga automotive plant YelAZ, RIA-Novosti reported on 4 August. Sorokin said: "We consider this site the most realistic for setting up production by manufacturers from South Korea. We make this conclusion given the high level of readiness of engineering communications of the site." He refused to say which South Korean company have proposed the project, saying that several representatives of that country's automobile sector have shown interest in it.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa Marks 10th Anniversary Of Bilateral Treaty With Moscow...
A conference was held on 3 August in the Bashkir State Assembly to mark the 10th anniversary of the power-sharing treaty between Ufa and Moscow in which deputies and representatives of the Bashkir presidential administration and the Bashkir government took part, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 4 August.

Participants agreed that the 1994 treaty has become a mechanism of developing federative relations in Russia. State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev said Tatarstan's and Bashkortostan's power-sharing treaties with Russia contributed to establishing the republic's statehood. Tolkachev said the importance of Bashkortostan's power-sharing treaty cannot be overestimated, but added that in the current situation the treaty has shortcomings, including contradictions with federal law and the unclear character of some provisions. Those shortcomings, however, do not provide grounds for giving up on the document, Tolkachev said.

...While Bashkir Leader Not Optimistic About Document
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 3 August, Bashkir World Congress Executive Committee Chairman Ekhmet Soleimanov said there is no sense in praising the bilateral treaty in the current situation, when the rights of peoples and national republics are being restricted in Russia. Soleimanov said the treaty is not being implemented, since Bashkortostan, which should be a sovereign republic under the document, has begun sending all its money to Moscow and waiting for what Moscow allocates for the republic. Soleimanov also opposed the merging of Russian regions, one of which proposes merging Bashkortostan with Orenburg Oblast and another Tatarstan with Ulyanovsk Oblast, saying that this will result in transforming national republics into governorates.

Tax Ministry Draws Attention To Bashkir Refineries
Anton Ustinov, head of the Russian Tax Ministry's Legal Department, said that the ministry considers it unfair that the media only pay attention to the Yukos case while the ministry revealed in 2001-02 violations at a number of large oil refineries, including the Ufa and Novoufimskii oil refineries and Ufaneftekhim, reported on 4 April, citing "Neftegazovaya vertikal." As a result, an arbitration court declared illegal agreements on the leasing of equipment between the refineries and companies registered in Kazakhstan's Baikonur offshore zone to evade paying of taxes. The court ruled that the refineries, not the Baikonur companies, were actually the producers of oil products. The three Bashkir refineries were ordered to pay a total of over 12 billion rubles to the state, Ustinov said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova