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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 24, 2004

24 September 2004
Construction Of Tatar-Korean Oil Refinery Launched In Tuben Kama
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and South Korean LG International Corporation representatives planted a capsule on 23 September symbolizing the beginning of the construction of a $3 billion petrochemical and oil-refining complex in Tuben Kama, reported on 23 September and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 24 September. The contract on the project was signed on 21 September in Moscow at a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 22 September 2004).

Nizhnekamskneftekhim General Director Vladimir Busygin said on 23 September that the first, $52 million contract on setting up the facility capable of producing 40,000 tons of foamed polystyrene a year may be signed in November. Minnikhanov said the first stage of the entire project, alongside the polystyrene plant, will also include the construction of the new ELOU-AVT-7 oil refinery capable of processing 7 million tons a year and of a facility to produce 200,000 tons of linear polyethylene a year.

"Kommersant-Volga-Urals" quoted Korean Export-Import Bank President Shin Dong-kyu as saying a credit line may be opened by the end of the year. The bank will provide $600 million from its own resources, and another $500 million will be invested by the Tatarstan-Korean Petrochemical Corporation, and $200 million more will be attracted from European banks.

Law Enforcers Increase Anti-Terrorist Measures...
Inspections by law enforcement organizations of various institutions and organizations to determine how prepared their personnel are to act in emergency situations show that most of them have a minimal level of protection from actions by extremists, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 23 September. This conclusion was announced at a briefing on 23 September by Tatarstan's Deputy Interior Minister Artem Khokhorin. Specifically, Khokhorin said, inspection of republican television stations revealed their poor state of security, especially at the STS and Variant stations, where officials planted fake explosives to check employees reactions.

Khokhorin said that as part of the antiterrorist operations, people in Tatarstan may face some restrictions on their rights, including vigorous control of luggage in airports, checking "suspicious" people, and inspections of madrasah students and people going abroad for religious education. Khokhorin added that antiterrorist measures will not include detaining people dressed according to the requirements of Islam.

...As Two Muslim Women Detained In Supermarket
Two young Muslim women in head scarves were detained in a Kazan supermarket on 22 September and held by guards, reported on 23 September. Police then took the women to a local Interior Ministry office where "a preventive talk" was held with them. The Tatar organization Ihlas and the editorial board of the "Umma" newspaper expressed their concern at the incident.

Audit Chamber Exposes Embezzlement Of 9 Million Rubles
Tatarstan's Audit Chamber announced on 23 September that it discovered 9 million rubles ($308,000) in alleged financial violations during an audit of the use of budgetary funds in 2003 and the first six months of 2004 by the republican Agency for State Order and in enterprises in Apas and Kukmara raions, the Audit Chamber's press service reported the same day. Some 1.1 million rubles were allegedly embezzled in the Agency for State Order, 3.8 million rubles in Apas Raion, and 4 million in Kukmara Raion.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Parliament Promotes Strengthening Power Vertical
At its plenary session on 23 September, the Bashkir State Assembly proposed amendments to the federal law on general principles of organization of local self-government in the Russian Federation under which the implementation throughout Russia of the Bashkir model of organizing local government, RIA-Novosti reported on 23 September and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 24 September. Deputies called for the withdrawal of large cities and municipal raions from municipalities, and making them subordinate to the state. Thus, the current municipal system of power would only be used at the level of rural councils and raions within cities.

Local Self-Government Issues Committee Chairman Zofer Yenikeev said the issue was not included in the session's agenda and was developed and proposed at the last minute as "a response to the initiatives by Vladimir Putin on strengthening the vertical power."

Bashkir authorities consider the existing republican system their brainchild, due to which complete manageability of territories was maintained in the republic. Yenikeev said residents do not care what kind of management system a city or raion falls under, caring more that the system "provides heat and electricity rather than controversies between different levels of power as is the case, for example, in Vladivostok." Heads of city and raion administrations are currently not elected but appointed by the Bashkir president. The system has come under strong criticism from the local opposition, which considers the system a holdover from the old state-administrative system.

High-Ranking Ufa Interior Official Charged With Illegal Possession Of Weapons
The Bashkir Prosecutor's Office has completed its investigation into a criminal case against Ufa Interior Directorate Deputy Head Mikhail Savintsev, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 September. Savintsev was initially accused of attempting to poison Ufa Criminal Police head Viktor Anisimov with mercury. He is currently charged with illegally possessing weapons. Prosecutor Rostem Mokhemetshin told the daily that Savintsev fell under suspicion following an incident in which mercury allegedly fell out the headrest of Anisimov's office chair while Anisimov was being treated in a hospital (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12 March and 1 April 2004). It was revealed that Savintsev had access to Anisimov's office and mercury was found in Savintsev's blood.

Two TT pistols and some 2,000 rounds of ammunition were allegedly subsequently found during a search of Savintsev's garage. Mokhemetshin said Savintsev, who has been relieved of his duties, has been charged with illegally possessing arms, and the mercury-poisoning allegations remain under investigation.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova