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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 30, 2003

30 June 2003
Will The Tatar Parliament Be Unicameral or Bicameral?
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said on 28 June that a model of Tatarstan's next parliament will be determined at a meeting to be held in early July, reported the same day. The State Council has developed two draft laws, in which two models of parliament -- unicameral and bicameral -- are specified. Mukhametshin said he had consulted Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov about the possibility of a bicameral parliament, adding that he himself backs that model. Asked about which chamber he will join in the case of a bicameral legislature is chosen, Mukhametshin said, "with my experience, it would be foolish to go to the upper chamber. It is necessary to join the lower one where the most difficult work...will take place."

The Tatar parliament passed on 5 September 2002 a draft law on the election of Tatar State Council deputies, under which the republic's parliament would be unicameral with 50 deputies. The draft, however, was then excluded from the agenda of the State Council's November session. Under a bicameral legislative body, half of the representatives in the lower chamber would come from political parties; the other half would be elected in one-mandate districts. The upper chamber would include representatives of administrative-territorial entities.

Speaker Reports Electorate's Preferences
Mukhametshin said on 28 June that the Tatarstan-New Century (TYG) political movement has not chosen a party it will ally with in the December State Duma elections, Tatar agencies reported the same day. Mukhametshin said it will definitely not be the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR). Mukhametshin said that 14 percent of Tatarstan's residents questioned in a survey carried out by the State Council's Public Opinion Department this current month are supporters of TYG. According to the poll, which surveyed 3,000 people, 25.6 percent support Unified Russia, 12 percent the Communist Party, 5.3 percent the Union of Rightist Forces, 4.3 percent Yabloko, 4 percent LDPR, and 2.3 percent Revival of Russia.

Tatneft Holds Shareholders' Meeting
Speaking at the Tatneft annual shareholders' meeting on 27 June in Elmet, General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov said the oil company's major results in the past year include launching a basic complex at the Tuben Kama oil refinery, passing the corporate management code, maintaining oil production at the previous year's level of 24.6 million tons, repayment of the $300 million Eurobonds debt and the $112 million debt to the Paris Club of creditors, Solid-info reported the same day. Tatneft and the Credit Suisse First Boson bank signed a five-year $200 million credit agreement, Takhawetdinov said. At the meeting it was decided to pay 100 percent dividends on privileged shares and 10 percent on ordinary shares. The Ernst & Young Vneshaudit company was appointed as Tatneft's auditor and the Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov was reelected head of the company's board.

Helicopter Plant Attracts $50 Million Credit, Develops New Models
Aleksandr Lavrentyev, the general director of the Kazan Helicopter Plant, said the company has signed a $50 million credit agreement with Vneshtorgbank, reported on 28 June. The credit will be spent on completing a contract for the production of Mi-17 helicopters to be sold to India. Lavrentyev said the plant attracts annually between $70 million-$90 million in credits to fulfill its contracts. Lavrentyev also said that the plant will finish license tests of a new helicopter, the Ansat, by 2004 and will begin next year its production. The plant, which has invested $80 million into the project since 1996, has orders for 10 Ansats and will be able to produce 20 aircraft a year as of 2005. Under the 2002 contract with the Russian Defense Ministry, the plant will design a training helicopter based on the Ansat. The ministry plans to purchase up to 100 machines of that model till 2010, Lavrentyev said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ex-Bashtransgaz Head Takes Over Tax Directorate
Aleksandr Veremeenko, one of the main opponents of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, who was dismissed a week ago from the post of Bashtransgaz general director, was appointed on 26 June by Russian Tax Minister Gennadii Bukaev to head the ministry's Bashkir Directorate, Russian media reported. Veremeenko told "Kommersant" on 28 June that he considers the "struggle for the priority of Russian financial laws in Bashkortostan" his major task at the new post. "Vedomosti" cited on 30 June unnamed sources in the Bashkir presidential administration and in Gazprom as saying that it was Rakhimov who insisted on Veremeenko's firing from the Gazprom Bashkir branch because of his political activity. Following the dismissal, according to a source in the Russian presidential administration cited by "Vedomosti," Sergei Veremeenko, the former head of Mezhprombank and the brother of Aleksandr Veremeenko, began "demanding satisfaction from his high-ranking friends" and lobbied for Aleksandr's appointment as Russian deputy presidential administration head in charge of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

The position of the Bashkir Directorate head fell vacant after its former head, Reshit Sattarov, was sacked in March for promoting Bashkortostan's interests in its conflict with the ministry over the issue of some 10 billion rubles ($329 million) the ministry claims the Bashkir oil refineries owe to the federal authorities. The Bashkir authorities have repeatedly accused Tax Minister Bukaev of helping Sergei Veremeenko to take over Bashkir oil refineries. The head of the Bashkir presidential administration, Marat Yamalov, told "Vedomosti" on 30 June that Bukaev's decision is "demonstratively cynical" and this is "a challenge to the Bashkir leadership and an insult to the republic."

Tatars Begin Alternative Census
Several of Bashkortostan's Tatar civic groups have started an alternative census in the republic, "Izvestia" reported on 30 June. The idea came at the founding congress of the Tatar People's Front (TMF) on 1 June. TMF leader Zahir Khekimov said the alternative census aims to obtain "true" data about the ethnic composition of Bashkortostan's population. Tatar organizations have said that violations occurring in the nationwide survey last October resulted in many Tatars being forced to register as Bashkirs. Khekimov says if the results of the alternative census differ from official data, then they will appeal against the October census results in court. According to the 1989 census, 39 percent of Bashkortostan's population were Russians; 28 percent, Tatars; and 22 percent, Bashkirs.

Germany Allocates $10 Million In Compensation For Midair Collision
Germany will contribute $10 million to a special fund to pay compensation to relatives of victims of the 1 July 2002 midair collision in southern Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002), ITAR-TASS reported on 27 June. The German Transport, Construction, and Housing Ministry has recommended to the Bundestag's Budget Committee to allocate a corresponding sum. The document also states that Switzerland and its Skyguide air-traffic control service, which guided the aircraft before the collision, are to bear major responsibility for the crash.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova