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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 23, 2003

23 September 2003
Tatneft Plans Cuts In Its Drilling Department
Tatneft's drilling units will gradually be withdrawn from the company because most of their potential is not being used, the oil company's first deputy general director, Chief Engineer Nail Ibragimov, told Tatar-inform on 22 September. He said that the drilling teams are being prepared to become self-sufficient ventures and are seeking contracts outside Tatarstan. For example, the first such team recently began work in Kazakhstan.

Tatneft's annual drilling capacity is reported to be 1.3 million meters of oil wells per year, but in 2003 the company will have drilled only 980,000 meters. Instead of introducing new oil wells, the major Tatar oil company will reportedly focus on boosting the output of existing installations.

President Signs Laws On Future Parliamentary Elections
President Mintimer Shaimiev endorsed legislation on the date of the next parliamentary elections, preparations for the Tatar parliament vote, and the parliament's structure, the presidential press service reported the same day. Under the laws, which have already sailed through the Tatar State Council, 50 election districts within the republic will elect 100 deputies, half of them according to party lists; 20 of the deputies will work on a professional basis while 80 will be allowed to maintain their other occupations. The approved documents also move the date of the next parliamentary vote to the date of the Russian presidential elections on 14 March 2004. The five-year term of Tatarstan's State Council formally expires in December 2004. One-hundred and thirty deputies are currently in the council, 30 of them as professional politicians.

Tatarstan Leads Russia's Regions In Grain-Harvest
Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev told a meeting of the federal government on 22 September that this year Tatarstan leads grain-producing regions by having gathered 5 million tons of grain, while Krasnodar Krai and Bashkortostan have collected the second and third largest harvests, RIA Novosti reported the same day. Gordeev added that the regions in the Siberian, Volga, and Central Federal Districts still have 20-25 percent of the harvest to gather.

President Shaimiev's Sons Win Another European Autocross Championship
Radik Shaimiev, the son of President Mintimer Shaimiev, won the 2003 European autocross championship, which ended on 21 September, Intertat reported the next day. His brother, Airat, won second place in the tournament. In 2002 Airat, who represents the Suvar car racing club, won the championship and Radik, representing the TAIF racing team, finished second.

Autocross became very popular among Tatarstan's elite after 1995, when Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, Shaimiev's sons, Interior Minister Esget Seferov, and Tatar pop singer Salavat started competing with professional racers at the Biek Tau race track near Kazan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Tops Unified Russia List In Bashkortostan
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov will head the Bashkir regional list of the Unified Russia party in the December State Duma elections, RosBalt reported on 22 September. The decision was passed at the 20 September congress of Unified Russia in Moscow. Unified Russia representatives in Bashkortostan said that Rakhimov, who is a member of the Unified Russia Supreme Council, will not run for the State Duma but will "personify Unified Russia in the republic." Rostem Ekhmedinurov, the deputy head of the branch's executive committee, said the branch has still not nominated its candidate for the Bashkir presidential elections, adding that the issue will be clarified in a couple of weeks.

Daily Criticizes 'Violations' Of Constitution
"Novaya gazeta" wrote on 22 September that extending the terms of the city and raion councils in Bashkortostan until March 2004 violates the republic's constitution. The full text of the amended constitution was published in "Respublika Bashkortostan" recently. One article in the proposed constitution ruled that elections of city and raion councils are to be held in tandem with Bashkir State Assembly elections. The State Assembly voted recently to extend the powers of local councils until March 2004, when the Russian presidential election is to be held. The newspaper commented that this move was designed to maintain a grip on power in the run-up to the Bashkir presidential race.

Pan-Turkic Conference Gathers In Ufa
The 20th meeting of the permanent council of TURKSOI, an international organization of Turkic-language countries and regions, opened in Ufa on 22 September, Bashinform and RosBalt reported the same day. TURKSOI's general director, Azerbaijani Culture Minister Polad Bulbuloghlu, Russian Deputy Culture Minister Anatolii Rakhaev, Turkish First Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Mustafa Isen, and culture ministers and deputy ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tatarstan, Tyva, Altai, Khakasia, Orenburg Oblast, and Gagauzia took part in the forum held behind closed doors. Speaking at the opening of the summit, Bulbuloghlu praised Bashkortostan's leadership for supporting Turkic-language culture, art, and education. The same day, President Rakhimov held a reception for congress participants. TURKSOI was established in 1992 in Istanbul at the initiative of the culture ministers of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. Later, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Republic of Tyva, Khakasia, and Gagauzia joined the organization as observers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova