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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 31, 2002

31 May 2002
TIU Says Attack On Leader 'Politically Motivated'
In response to the 29 May attack on activists of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally, the TIU issued a statement yesterday claiming that, "the [attack] was carried out under political orders from certain state structures�[and] the criminals who savagely beat the leader of the TIU in Chally, Rafis Kashapov, should be punished," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 May 2002).

Six members of the TIU in Chally were injured in the attack, which was carried out by eight unknown assailants. Four of those injured, Kashapov, Gabdulla Shaisultanov, Rashit Khafizov, and Saniya Vakhitova, have been hospitalized. Kashapov is listed in stable condition, whereas Shaisultanov is in extremely serious condition, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported yesterday.

According to a report by Tatar-inform yesterday, Tatarstan Deputy Interior Minister Rafil Nagumanov said he believes the incident was not politically motivated but a "settling of scores between groups that control local markets."

Meanwhile, Nafis Kashapov, Rafis Kashapov's twin brother, told a press conference in Chally yesterday that the attack could have been provoked by the TIU's recent competition for the best publication in Russia about human-rights violations and the lack of democracy in the country. He said that during the competition, the organization had received numerous descriptions of "monstrous events" throughout the country.

KamAZ Denies Rumors Of Layoffs...
Sergei Kogogin, general director of the KamAZ automotive concern, denied yesterday reports that the company plans to cut as many as 15,000 jobs. Kogogin said that he didn't order any layoffs and that such plans are not on the company's agenda, reported yesterday. KamAZ issued a press release yesterday to the same effect, saying that the company has never considered taking such measures.

The company witnessed production growth beginning in 1998, which resulted in the hiring of new workers. By this year, however, production and sales were down, leaving KamAZ with more than enough employees to meet its production needs. In response to this discrepancy, Kogogin said that the company needs to increase its production and that it will find ways of using its extra staff, reported.

...As Government Official Insists Layoffs Inevitable
If KamAZ wants to find investments and become a European-level automotive company, then it should be prepared to lay off a significant number of employees, and Tatarstan authorities should be ready to find new jobs for the laid-off employees, Tatarstan First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov told yesterday.

Muratov said the figure of 15,000 layoffs is the result of research done by the Swedish company Scania, which is currently preparing for a joint project with KamAZ. Muratov said the Swedish company concluded that KamAZ currently has too many employees, especially engineers and technicians. This information was passed on to Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev during his recent visit to Sweden.

Muratov stressed that authorities at all levels -- republican, city, and within the company itself -- should take all necessary measures to prepare for layoffs in order to prevent an increase in unemployment and resulting social tensions.

Tatarstan Muslim Board Plans To Refuse Foreign Sponsorship Of Hajj
The Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board plans to introduce a new procedure for sending Russia's Muslim pilgrims to Mecca, reported yesterday. The board said that "doubtful foreign sponsors" will be forbidden from sponsoring the Hajj, since these often represent fundamentalist religious organizations and intelligence services. The board's new program, which is called Idel-Hajj, includes fund-raising to secure financing for travel costs, the training of groups of pilgrims at the Russian Islamic University, and the provision of a full range of services to organize trips.

The Nasko-Tatarstan insurance company and the Bolshaya Volga insurance association have agreed to take part in the project, which meets the requirements of both Russian legislation and Islamic traditions.

Tatarstan Mufti Gusman Iskhakov informed Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo of the proposal during the latter's recent trip to Kazan. Rushailo approved of the idea, reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Wants Draft Constitution Ready By Fall
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov charged members of the republic's Constitutional Assembly with working out a draft constitution by September, Bashinform reported yesterday. The president said the situation regarding the harmonization of the constitution with federal legislation was "critical." He stressed that the fundamental principles of the republic's current constitution, in particular, the republic's treaty-based relations with Moscow, should be maintained and developed in the course of constitutional reform and that the 1994 power-sharing treaty should be considered as a basis for reforms. He also said, however, that the treaty will be changed and that an additional protocol to the treaty will likely be signed with Moscow.

Rakhimov said the new constitution should increase the powers of the Bashkortostan State Assembly to include responsibility for determining the strategy for political and economic development and overseeing the implementation of the republican budget.

The members of the Constitutional Assembly have been divided into six groups to work on six different parts of the constitution.

EES Loses One Seat On Bashkirenergo Board...
Four representatives of Russia's power monopoly Unified Energy Systems (EES), along with nine other members, were elected to the board of directors of Bashkirenergo at the Bashkortostan company's shareholders meeting on 27 May, "Kommersant" daily reported on 29 May.

In 2001, five representatives of EES, which owns 21.7 percent of Bashkirenergo, were on Baskirenergo's board of directors, while there were six in 2000. The Bashkirskaya Toplivnaya Kompaniya, which is loyal to the Bashkortostan government and owns 32 percent of Bashkirenergo's shares, received the majority of places on the board.

...But Court Rules Bashkirenergo Must Repay Debts
The Yekaterinburg Arbitration Court ruled on 28 May that Bashkirenergo must pay EES 182 million rubles ($5.8 million) in customer fees for 1998, "Kommersant" daily reported the next day. The court was ruling on a suit brought by EES, which demanded that these fees be paid by Bashkirenergo.

EES originally made a claim in the Bashkortostan Arbitration Court that Bashkirenergo owed 370 million rubles ($11.8 million) in customer fees and fines, but that court ruled that the amount owed was actually 182 million rubles. Bashkirenergo appealed and had the ruling overturned.

It is not known whether Bashkirenergo plans to appeal the ruling of the Yekaterinburg Arbitration Court as well.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova