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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 1, 2002

1 July 2002
Supreme Court To Hear Challenge To Tatar Constitution
The Tatar Supreme Court is to hear before 4 July a challenge by Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev on the illegal repetition in Tatarstan's amended constitution of provisions that had previously been ruled to contradict federal laws, "Konets nedeli" weekly reported on 29 June. It the court rules that the challenge is well-founded, then the prosecutor will be able to initiate a procedure to dissolve the Tatar parliament.

Zvyagintsev already made a similar protest to the Tatar State Council, demanding that during its next parliamentary session it abolish or change more than 50 provisions of the amended constitution. Following that process, the State Council immediately decided to break for the summer, earlier than planned. The paper commented that this is part of the republican authorities' plan to delay the judicial process. If the court rules that the constitution needs to be amended again and the parliament refuses to meet during the summer, then Russian President Vladimir Putin will have to issue a warning to the parliament in accordance with federal law. Putin has, however, already publicly praised Tatar State Council deputies for harmonizing their constitution with federal legislation, the paper said.

Tatar Parliamentary Speaker Named To Head Federal Power-Sharing Committee
At a meeting chaired my Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov in Moscow on 25 June, Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin was selected to head a committee on power sharing among federal, regional, and local authorities of the Russian Council of Legislators, Tatar-inform reported on 28 June. In total, seven committees were set up at the meeting.

Mukhametshin told Tatar-inform that his committee will work "in parallel, or possibly even together" with the committee on power sharing between Moscow and federation subjects headed by deputy presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak.

Mukhametshin said the joint powers of federal and regional bodies is currently one of the most urgent issues in Russia. He said that joint powers are regulated by about 300 federal laws that, however, are unable to provide a clear distinction of the rights and powers of the federal and regional governments.

Annual Meeting Reveals Good News At Tatneft
Nail Ibragimov, first deputy general director of the Tatneft oil company, revealed at the company's annual shareholders meeting in Elmet on 28 June that the company produced 24.6 million tons of oil in 2001, reported the same day. In total, 28.2 million tons of oil were extracted in Tatarstan in 2001, an increase of 3.7 percent from the previous year. Tatneft also paid down its foreign debt by $315 million in 2001. At the beginning of 2001, that debt totaled $693 million in foreign-denominated currencies and another 4 billion rubles ($127.2 million). The company had a net profit for the year of 21.15 billion rubles ($672.7 million) and it made 19 billion rubles ($604.3 million) in capital investments, which was an increase of 33 percent over the previous year. Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov was re-elected chairman of the Tatneft board of directors. The board elected a total of 15 members, a third of whom are representatives of the state, which owns 31.3 percent of Tatneft, while the workforce owns 12 percent, foreign investors 19 percent, and Russian investors 37.7 percent.

Klebanov Predicts Massive Layoffs At KamAZ
"Vechernyaya Kazan" daily reported on 29 June that the KamAZ automotive concern's debt has reached 32 billion rubles ($1 billion). This figure was announced at KamAZ's annual shareholders meeting in Chally on 28 June. The paper cited general director Sergei Kogogin as saying that the main result of the company's activities in 2001 was increasing the number of workers at the company. Meanwhile, Tatar First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov recently said it is inevitable that as many as 15,000 workers at KamAZ will lose their jobs. The daily also cited Russian Industry and Science Minister Ilya Klebanov, who is also chairman of KamAZ's board of directors, as saying at the meeting that up to 20,000 workers are to be laid off. Klebanov said, however, that this is his private opinion and does not necessarily reflect company policy.

In 2001, the company increased exports of vehicles from 2,493 to 3,341, Tatar-inform reported on 28 June. The shareholders meeting proposed 23 candidacies to the new board of directors, 11 of whom had never been members of the KamAZ board. The results will be announced in several days. Former general director Ivan Kostin, who was initially proposed to the board, withdrew his candidacy.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Constitutional Commission Has Tough Road Ahead
Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev chaired a meeting of the heads of the working groups of Bashkortostan's Constitutional Commission on 27 June, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 30 June. Tolkachev said the commission will have trouble coming up with the text of a new constitution. He added that special attention should be paid to the controversial issues of sovereignty, citizenship, ownership of natural resources, and languages. He said the commission's task is to develop a legally faultless text of the constitution.

The first Bashkir Constitution was adopted in 1925 but it never came into force as Moscow claimed that it contradicted the federal constitution. A second constitution was adopted in 1937 but Moscow approved it only three years later.

The constitutional process is being held up by the fact that the Russian Constitutional Court still has not issued a ruling on whether regional leaders can be elected for more than two terms in office. The correspondent cited an identified source as saying that if the court's answer is "no," then President Murtaza Rakhimov will likely be elected head of the Bashkir parliament.

Since the establishment of the Constitutional Commission, media outlets in the republic have speculated on Bashkortostan's becoming a parliamentary republic, the correspondent said.

11 Bashkir Companies Given B+ Credit Rating
The Council of Experts for Evaluating the Creditability of Bashkortostan's Companies has compiled a list of 11 firms that have a credit rating of B+, Rosbalt reported on 28 June. The list includes Bashneftekhim, UfaVita, Bashneft, the Shikhan brewery, Ufimskii Neftepererabatyvayushchii Zavod, Bashinformsvyaz, Bashkirenergo, Soda, Salavatnefteorgsintez, Ufimskii Zavod Elastomernykh Materialov i Konstruktsii, and Ufaneftekhim. The companies were evaluated in terms of their ability to meet their current financial obligations to partners and budgets of all levels, as well as on the volume of their assets and liabilities. The council includes representatives from regional authorities, banks, and financial and auditing companies.

The ratings agency Standard & Poor's gave Bashkortostan a rating of B with a positive outlook on 14 May (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 16 May 2002). According to the agency, the main risks of investing in the republic are linked to the dependence of the oil and oil-processing sectors on Russia's policy and world oil prices, the involvement of local authorities in business, and the dependence on subsidies from the federal budget. At the same time, the agency's analysts took a positive view of the implementation of the republican budget, the maintenance of a low state debt, and the extension of the agreement with the federal government on financial subsidies.

Archive Administration Discusses Antiterrorism Measures
The archival administration of the Bashkir Cabinet of Ministers recently held a meeting to discuss measures to improve the storage of archives in city and district courts, as well as means of financing the archive, Bashinform reported on 28 June. Special attention was also paid to ways of protecting the archives against possible terrorist attacks, the agency said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova