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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 29, 2002

29 January 2002
Tatneft Freezes Oil Production
Falling oil prices on global markets and growing production costs have forced Tatneft to suspend drilling at some of its oil wells and economize, AK&M agency reported on 28 January, citing Tatneft General Director Shafagat Takhautdinov. He said the domestic market is experiencing a glut due to Russia's agreement with OPEC to cut exports.

Tatarstan's major oil reserve, the Romashkino deposit in Elmet, is reported to have exhausted 80 percent of its capacity, with the current crude said to be high in sulfur and thus of lower quality than that of other Russian producers.

...And Continues Payments On Foreign Loans
Tatneft still owes $112 million to Western creditors, Tatnews agency quoted Deputy General Director Nail Ibragimov as saying on 28 January. The company paid off $314 million in foreign debt in 2001, but also took out a new $225 million loan during the same period. So far in 2002, some $26 million has been paid to foreign lenders.

Airbus Executive To Visit Kazan Plant
Daniel Deviler, the deputy president of French-based Airbus, will visit the Kazan Aircraft Plant on 30 January to discuss possible integration and production of parts for the European aircraft manufacturer in Kazan. Airbus has already earmarked a total of $1.5 billion for launching production facilities within the Russian aircraft industry.

President Shaimiev To Join Russian State Council Meeting
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev will participate in a Russian State Council session on 30 January to discuss a state program for physical education and sport in Moscow, his press service reported.

Tatarstan's Communist Party Folded Into Russian Party Structure
The Communist Party of Tatarstan gathered in Kazan to officially transform itself into a republican branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, as required by a federal law on political parties, RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported on 28 January. According to branch coordinator Robert Sadykov, no changes were made to the party's leadership in Tatarstan, which is headed by Duma Deputy Aleksandr Saliy. Currently, there are some 15,000 Communists in Tatarstan, most of them elderly people.

Accident At Kazan Gunpowder Plant Kills Employee
A worker at the Kazan gunpowder plant was killed by a blast from a test canon shell, Efir TV reported on 28 January. A reporter said tight security at the restricted plant prevented ambulance workers from taking the victim to hospital in the immediate wake of the accident, when he was still alive. Access was restricted for both investigators and emergency services, the station reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Inflation Figure Falls By One-Fifth, Remains Below Russian Average
Annual inflation in Bashkortostan totaled 17.4 percent in 2001, down by nearly one-fifth on the previous year, the State Statistics Committee announced on 28 January. Bashkortostan's Statistics Committee cites a 21.6 percent inflation figure for 2000. The new figure is lower than the 18.6 percent average inflation rate in Russia for 2001. Foodstuffs, consumer goods, and construction materials showed the highest price growth during the year, while only gasoline, school goods, and sporting goods did not show price increases.

Criminality Rises By Nearly One-Fourth In 2001
Fifty-nine-thousand crimes were registered in Bashkortostan in 2001, over 4,000 of them drug-related, Bashinform reported on 28 January. The crime rate increased by 23 percent year-on-year, and 16,000 crimes went unsolved -- a situation that was blamed on decreasing effectiveness of police investigators and prosecutors.

Federal Accounting Chamber Head Chairs Ufa Meeting
The head of the Russian Accounting Chamber, Sergei Stepashin, chaired a meeting of his subordinates operating in the Volga federal district in Ufa on 28 January. Stepashin told participants that the organization's duty was to protect state property and finances from theft during the current process of division of powers between the federal center and the regions. Russia "has not reversed its movement toward building a federative state, because there were too many supporters of this process," he said.

Failed Bashkir Bank Praised For Progress In 2001
Senior managers at ARKO, the Russian state enterprise charged with assisting bankrupt banks, told reporters on 28 January that Bashprombank managed to cope well with crisis. Less than one year after ARKO offered its patronage to the bank in 2000, Bashprombank has its crisis behind it, they said. Bashprombank claims to have refunded 80 percent of retail deposits and earned 65 million rubles ($2.1 million) in 2001, while losses in previous years regularly totaled 55 million rubles ($1.8 million).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi