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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 23, 2003

23 December 2003
Morozov Says Unified Russia Deputies May Occupy Key Positions In Government
Head of the Russian Regions faction in the former State Duma Oleg Morozov, who was re-elected to parliament on 7 December, told reporters in Chally on 22 December that the victory of Kremlin-backed Unified Russia in parliamentary elections lets it form a constitutional majority in the State Duma, reported. Morozov said Unified Russia's faction comprising more than 300 members will be registered by 29 December, the day of the new Duma's first session. He also said the new government will be formed in the wake of two elections, parliamentary and presidential. He expressed his confidence that the formation of the new cabinet as well as its head will be agreed with the parliamentary majority. He added that he is sure that numerous members of the parliamentary majority will occupy senior posts in the government. Morozov also expressed regret that the new State Duma lacks deputies from Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces, but he said that this is their own fault since they poorly campaigned and failed to come to agreement with each other.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Visits Kazan
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Aleshin arrived in Kazan on the evening of 22 December, reported the same day. Meeting Aleshin at the Kazan airport, President Mintimer Shaimiev said that "close attention to defense potential is justified since Russia cannot be a weak country." Aleshin will meet aircraft and helicopter producers and representatives of defense-industry contractors. Meanwhile, the Russian government has earmarked money for the Finance Leasing Company (FLK) to finance production of Tu-214 jets at the Kazan Gorbunov Aircraft Plant, "Vedomosti" reported on 23 December, citing the government information department. According to a resolution signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, FLK -- which, in 2001, won a competition for state subsidies to produce aircraft -- will issue an additional 385 million rubles ($13.2 million) worth of shares, which will become federal property. Currently, 58 percent of FLK is owned by the Russian Property Ministry, 11 percent is owned by the Tatar state, and the remaining shares are controlled by companies close to the Tatar government.

Tatneft Reports 2003 Results
At a press conference on 22 December, Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov said the company increased oil production in 2003 by 54,500 tons to 24.6 million tons compared to the previous year. The company increased its profits from 11 billion rubles ($376 million) to 17 billion rubles compared to last year. Takhawetdinov said Tatneft has cut its deliveries of oil to Bashkortostan from 250,000 tons to 100,000 tons in reaction to Bashkortostan raising the price of oil refining. He added that once prices are reduced, deliveries will be back up to previous volumes. Commenting on Tatneft's participation in a tender to purchase the controlling 65.76 percent share in the Turkish oil and petrochemical company Tupras, Takhawetdinov said he supported the establishment of an alliance with other oil companies, possibly from Turkey or the Middle East. Results of the tender are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2004. The Germany-based Efremov Kautchuk GMBH affiliated with Tatneft and the Turkish Anadolu Ortak Girisim Grubu are taking part in the tender.

TIU Chally Leader Arrested Again
Rafis Kashapov, head of the Chally branch of the Tatar Public Center, was ordered to return to custody by a Chally city court on 22 December, an RFE/RL Chally correspondent reported the same day. The court ruled that Kashapov had breached the conditions after his release from custody, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 December. Kashapov is accused of rousing interethnic, racial, and religious hostility (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 March, 13 and 23 May, 7 July, and 7 August 2003). Meanwhile, further legal proceedings scheduled for 22 December were postponed because of the absence of witnesses for the prosecution. In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, Kashapov said the fact that five witnesses for the defense came to the trial, while more than 30 witnesses for the prosecution were absent, may be evidence that the latter witnesses have been forced to testify against him. All-Tatar Public Center (BTIU) head Reshit Jegeferov, who came to the trial from Kazan to take part as a witness for the defense, said repeated arrests and persecution of Kashapov are seen as humiliating by the entire Tatar people. Another BTIU leader Yunys Kamaletdinov labeled Kashapov's arrest as a "farce," saying there were not enough reasons to take him into custody. Kamaletdinov said the measure might have been taken in order to prevent Kashapov's efforts to run for the republican parliament.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

USK Chairman Announces Final Results Of Presidential Vote
On 22 December, Bashkortostan's Central Election Commission chairman Bariy Kinjegulov announced the final results of the Bashkir presidential election, confirming that the incumbent Murtaza Rakhimov had won 78.01 percent of the vote, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. His rival, former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko received 15.84 percent of votes. The turnout for the second round was 69.9 percent of the vote. The Bashkir Supreme Court will consider the case of the former LUKOil Vice President Ralif Safin, who has questioned the legality of the first-round results on 23 December where he came in third. The previous day, however, Safin told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent that he had withdrawn his legal claim because the election was already over.

Bashkir Raion Official Highlights Violations During Vote Count
An unnamed official within Bashkortostan's Yangawil Raion administration, who was involved in organizing the 21 December presidential elections, told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent via telephone on 22 December that the vote count in his region came up with equal number of ballots cast in favor of both Rakhimov and Veremeenko. Nevertheless, the official said, the raion's election commission reported to its superior body in Ufa that the incumbent president had won some 70 percent of the vote and his rival less than 20 percent. The official also said that the local authorities had warned the heads of major industrial enterprises that they would lose their jobs in case they failed to ensure active support for Rakhimov from their employees.

Media Confused Over Date Of Rakhimov's Inauguration
Marat Yamalov, head of the information department of the Bashkir presidential staff, told Rosbalt on 22 December that Rakhimov's third presidential inauguration ceremony is scheduled for 27 December. The president will give his oath in both Bashkir and Russia -- the two state languages of Bashkortostan -- and the event is to be attended by federal officials and the heads of neighboring regions. However, RIA Novosti cited the press service of the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District as saying that the ceremony will take place on 25 December.

Wage Arrears Down By Almost 26 Percent
According to officials from Bashkortostan's Trade Unions Federation, at the end of 2003 back wages owed by the republic's industries have decreased by 25.7 percent compared to the beginning of the year, Rosbalt reported on 22 December. The wage arrears are said to have reduced in all branches of Bashkir industry, except chemical and petrochemical production. Bashkortostan's industries currently owe their employees a total of 365.2 million rubles ($12.6 million).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi