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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 6, 2003

6 August 2003
State Media Agency Head Says No Plans To Establish Power Vertical On Media Market
Marat Muratov, the general director of the Tatmedia mass communications agency, told reporters on 5 August that encouraging competitiveness among the state-controlled outlets in the media market will be one of the agency's priorities. Tatmedia, established by a 30 April decree by President Mintimer Shaimiev, is subordinate to the Tatar Cabinet of Ministers. The agency should not be treated as an attempt to establish a power vertical in the mass media market, Muratov said. He outlined the major functions of the agency, which include improving the infrastructure of the media market, liaising with media heads, and monitoring state media outlets' budgets. The latter will be done in "quite a strict" manner, Muratov said, adding that all mass media will have to present reports on their incomes and expenses. Tatmedia brings together all the republic's state-controlled media, including eight newspapers, 11 magazines, and the Tatarstan-New Century television and radio company.

Tatneft Prolongs Cooperation With Hewlett Packard
The oil company Tatneft and the technology giant Hewlett Packard (HP) signed a cooperation agreement for 2003-2004, Tatar-inform reported on 5 August. The document renewed a similar 2001 agreement on the development of information technologies. According to the new agreement, Tatneft will use HP as a major systems integrator for information-technology projects, including developing the oil company's data-processing centers. Tatneft began its cooperation with HP in 1993.

New Aqtai Helicopter Ready For Unveiling
The first super-light Aqtai helicopter has been assembled at the Kazan Helicopter Plant, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 August, citing the plant's administration. The aircraft, which is controlled by one pilot and able to seat two passengers, has a maximum take-off weight of 1,150 kilograms and a maximum speed of 210 kilometers per hour. It can fly without landing and refueling for up to 1,060 kilometers. According to the plant managers, there is a demand for some 500 similar helicopters on the Russian market. The helicopter will be showcased at the international aviation show MAKS-2003, due to open on 19 August in Zhukovskii, near Moscow.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Duma Deputy Appeals To Audit Chamber To Investigate Privatization Violations
State Duma Deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) has asked Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov if privatization of companies in the Bashkir petrochemical sector was legal, reported on 5 August. Mitrofanov, who announced the previous week his intention to run for the Bashkir presidency (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 1 August 2003), referred to a recent report by the Russian Audit Chamber about "unprecedented violations" that took place in Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 July 2003). He called on the prosecutor-general "to evaluate the activities of citizens and officials," to investigate alleged cases of large-scale fraud, and "to take all necessary measures" to return shares of Bashkir petrochemical companies to the state. Citing violations revealed by the Audit Chamber, Mitrofanov said that the controlling interests of four oil refineries -- the Ufa Oil Refinery, Ufaneftekhim, the Novo-Ufimskii Oil Refinery, and Bashkirnefteprodukt -- had been sold illegally and that those stakes should be returned to the state.

Bashkirenergo Unable To Complete Planned Repair Works Because Of Debts
The Bashkirenergo electricity company will not be able to implement repair works on heating supply networks because of growing debts and will refurbish only 4.1 kilometers of pipeline instead of the planned 7.5 kilometers, RosBalt reported on 5 August, citing the Bashkirenergo press service. Consumers owe the company 4.4 billion rubles ($145 million), -- agricultural manufacturers owe more than 1 billion rubles of that. In July, the electricity company cut off and reduced electricity and heating supplies to 81 debtors, including the Birsk electromechanical plant Progress, the Mansurov construction materials enterprise, and the Salavat Tram Directorate. Some 500 million rubles were to be allocated for preparations for winter in Bashkortostan -- 360 million rubles would come from the federal budget.

Mobile Passport Exchange Bureaus Launched In Ufa
Mobile passport bureaus have appeared in Ufa to supply residents with new Russian passports, "Trud" reported on 6 August. The bureaus can be found on buses equipped with computers, cameras, and printers. The bureaus are able to issue new passports for applicants in five to seven minutes. According to the daily, bureau employees said that the measure was intended to speed up the process of exchanging passports. The introduction of new passports in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan has begun four years later than in the rest of Russia as the republics demanded that pages in their national languages be inserted into the document.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova