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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 24, 2003

24 September 2003
Tatar Prime Minister In Ukraine To Talk Trade
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov arrived in Kyiv on 24 September to attend a presentation of the Republic of Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today, citing the governmental press service. The two-day event will involve an exhibition of major Tatar industries, roundtables of Ukrainian and Tatar business circles in the Kyiv Trade-Industrial Chamber, and Minnikhanov's meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoliy Kinakh.

In 2002 Ukraine was rated Tatarstan's second-largest foreign trading partner with annual trade turnover of $546 million. Exports of Tatarstan's oil for processing in Ukraine's oil refineries made up some 90 percent of that total, while Ukrainian exports to Tatarstan made up only 6 percent.

Tatarstan Maintains Status Of Republic Holidays
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 23 September signed laws on official holidays in Tatarstan and a tax on gambling businesses, and endorsed amendments to republican laws on trade unions, the judicial system, and foreign investments, according to the presidential press service. The drafts had already been passed by the Tatar State Council and will take effect after publication in the local press.

Under the law on state holidays, in addition to nationwide holidays Tatarstan will mark 30 August as the Day of the Republic, 6 November, as Constitution Day, and 26 April as Native Language Day. Annual presidential decrees will announce the dates of Korban Beyrem, the Muslim sacrifice holiday scheduled according to the lunar calendar, and Tatar Sabantuy, as well as the Russian Karavon holidays, which are usually set for weekends on different dates each year.

Tatneft To Look For Alternative Oil Deposits In Northwest
According to Tatneft's chief geology expert Reis Khisamov, Tatarstan's major oil producer intents to prospect new oil fields in the northwest of the republic, Tatarinform reported on 23 September. He explained that the last surveys, which revealed no sufficient deposits in the northwest, were conducted in the 1960s and modern prospecting technologies could give different results. The center of Tatar oil extraction has traditionally been located in the southeast of the republic.

Government To Privatize Former Defense Ministry Plant
Tatarstan's government will privatize the Elektropribor aviation-electronics plant, which was previously overseen by the Soviet defense industry and therefore kept highly secret, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 September, citing the plant's management. The state does intend to keep a controlling stake in the plant, however.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Another Opposition Leader Announces Bashkir Presidential Ambition...
Aleksandr Arinin, a leader of the Bashkir opposition and head of the Equality civic group, told RosBalt on 22 September that he plans to run for the Bashkir presidency. Arinin said he will take part in the race as an independent candidate despite the fact that several political parties, including Yabloko and the Motherland National-Patriotic Union, the leftist bloc headed by Duma deputy Sergei Glazev, have supported him. Arinin also said he will pay special attention to making sure the election is free and fair. He said two observers from Bashkortostan's opposition as well as foreign representatives will supervise the vote in all electoral districts. Arinin, 48, has already run for the Bashkir presidency in 1998 but was twice refused registration as a candidate by the republic's Central Election Commission. In 1993-1999, Arinin was a State Duma deputy.

...As KPRF Nominates Its Candidate In Race
Former State Duma deputy Resul Shugurov will be the Communist Party's (KPRF) candidate for the Bashkir presidency, RosBalt reported on 22 September. The decision was passed at a KPRF conference in Bashkortostan held in Ufa on 20 September. Shugurov will also ballot for the State Duma in the Kumertau single-mandate electoral district. Bashkir Communists will put forward candidates in all of the republic's six single-mandate districts. Another five representatives are included in federal party lists. After the completion of his 1995-1999 term in the State Duma, Shugurov, a 53-year-old ethnic Bashkir, worked in the business sector in Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast.

Unified Russia Tops Popularity List
A survey conducted by the Institute of Socioeconomic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in June among some 3,000 Bashkir residents revealed that 20.6 percent of them planned to vote for candidates from the Unified Russia party, Bashinform reported on 22 September. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation enjoyed support from 14.4 percent of the people questioned, the Union of Rightist Forces, 5.9 percent, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 4.8 percent, while Yabloko received 3.8 percent. Some 28 percent of those questioned said politics is of "great importance" or of "quite a big importance" for them.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova