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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 31, 2003

31 October 2003
Pope's Representative Visits Kazan
Pope John Paul II's representative in Russia, Antonio Mennini, arrived on 30 October in Kazan for a two-day visit, Tatarinform reported the same day. Mennini met with Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan and Tatarstan's First Deputy Mufti Weliulla Yaqupov. On 31 October, Mennini is scheduled to consecrate the site of a Catholic church under construction in Kazan and meet with Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov and presidential adviser Rafael Khekimov. The return to Kazan of the Holy Mother of God icon is supposed to be on the agenda, according to the reports.

Offshore Company Contests Formation Of Svyazinvestneftekhim
Tatarstan's Supreme Arbitration Court on 28 October postponed a hearing on a lawsuit by Kolomna-based Newport Capital Ltd. contesting the establishment by the Tatar government of Svyazinvestneftekhim holding, to which state-owned stakes in 18 leading republican companies were passed (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 21 May 2003), "Vremya i dengi" reported on 29 October. Newport Capital, which owns 0.57 percent of Kazanorgsintez and less than 0.1 percent of Tatneft and is registered in the Caribbean, claims that the federal law on privatization was violated during the formation of Svyazinvestneftekhim. Specifically, it said the information on the planned sale of state property was not published 30 days before the event and information about the results of privatization deals was not published within a month as is required by the law. At the 28 October hearing, the court satisfied a request by the plaintiff to provide access to more documents related to the case, including the resolution by the Tatar Property Ministry on privatization of state property and the report about the estimation of the state's stakes in the 18 companies.

Privatization through the establishment of Svyazinvestneftekhim has also been questioned by State Duma Deputy Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin (Communist Party) (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 July 2003).

Green Cross International Praises Tatneft For Environmental-Protection Technologies
Tatneft is a pioneer in developing several progressive technologies that could be used everywhere in Russia, Green Cross International (GCI) President Aleksandr Likhotal told a press conference in Elmet on 29 October. Likhotal, who visited Tatneft's facilities and met with Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov during his visit to Elmet, praised the oil company for its know-how on processing old automobile tires. Likhotal said dealing with used tires is a colossal problem for the entire world and nothing has yet been proposed to radically resolve it. Likhotal said Tatneft's know-how on processing tires without waste could be used in many countries, adding that GCI will publish information about it in its magazine, which is distributed in 100 countries in eight languages.

KamAZ Top Manager Accused Of Hiding 5.4 Million Rubles
The Chally Interior Ministry directorate has begun a criminal investigation of KamAZ-Dizel General Director Yevgenii Fedulov, and RosBalt reported on 30 October, citing the Tatar Interior Ministry's press service. Fedulov, 48, is alleged to have hid 5.4 million rubles ($175,000) in insurance payments he was supposed to transfer to the Pension Fund from June to December 2002.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Daily: Veremeenko Punished For High Political Ratings
"Komsomolskaya Pravda" wrote on 30 October that the recent refusal of Bashkortostan's Central Election Commission (TsIK) to register Sergei Veremeenko as a presidential candidate (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 October 2003) "was an usual thing for elections" in the republic. The paper assumed that the "real reason" for the TsIK ruling was not violations in Veremeenko's campaign, "but his unacceptably high ratings." Veremeenko's lawyers are reportedly preparing appeals to Russia's Central Election Commission and the Supreme Court to demand his official reinstatement as a candidate. Meanwhile, the TsIK is due to finish registering candidates on 2 November.

Bashkortostan Has Three Presidential Candidates Registered
In addition to Federation Council representative for Altai and former LUKoil Vice President Relif Safin, Bashkortostan's TsIK on 30 October registered local farmer Khesen Idiyatullin and Igor Izmetiev, Bashkortostan's representative in the Federation Council and former director of the Corus-Holding company, as candidates for the December presidential elections. Corus-Holding is a subsidiary of the Corus Group, which is controlled by the son of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, Ural. Both candidates obtained registration by submitting $325,000, while there is also the option of collecting the signatures of 5 percent of the voters.

Independent Observers Group To Monitor Elections In Bashkortostan
Following the recent statement of the Russian Fund for Free Elections in Ufa on illegal election-related activities of local authorities (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 October 2003), a special group of observers for the State Duma and presidential elections in Bashkortostan will be organized by the group. The Russian Fund for Free Elections oversees the fulfillment of the "Elections-2003" agreement on upholding clean election campaigning, which was signed by Russia's major political parties. The group of observers will include representatives of Yabloko, Russia's True Patriots Party, the Union of Rightist Forces, the Agrarian Party, and the People's Party.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi