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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 10, 2002

10 September 2002
'The Moscow Times' Studies Tatarstan's Foreign-Investment Conditions...
In a 9 September article devoted to Tatarstan's foreign investment conditions, "The Moscow Times" features the republic as "one of Russia's economic powerhouse regions, with several large export industries and a significant share of national production in several sectors." The daily ranks Tatarstan "third out of the 89 Russian regions in industrial and agricultural output in 2001, and it exports much of its production. Its economy has been growing faster than the nation as a whole, with a 7.4 percent growth in industrial output last year."

"The Moscow Times" cites "Ekspert" magazine as ranking the republic "the ninth-least risky region to invest in, down from fifth the previous year and third the year before that." The slip is mostly due to Tatarstan's growing debt problems. "Ekspert" further rates Tatarstan as having the "lowest political risk last year," according to the paper.

"The Moscow Times" notes that "the opportunities for foreign firms to buy controlling or lesser stakes in Tatarstan enterprises are limited," because while the local government has "technically bowed out of many privatized enterprises," it still plays a dominant role behind the scenes.

The daily says, however, that "there is room for foreigners in the republic's modernization program, in which foreign machinery is being imported to make local enterprises competitive." Also, there is much reconstruction currently being done for the celebrations of the capital Kazan's millennium in 2005.

The paper lists several successful joint projects between foreign and Tatar companies. They include ventures involving German chemical giant BASF and petrochemical plant Nizhnekamskneftekhim; Fujitsu and ICL-KMECS, a computer company focusing on software development and system integration; U.S.-based Pioneer Hi-Bred and the Tatar government; Swedish furniture retailer IKEA and Tatar furniture manufacturers; Pratt & Whitney Canada, a division of U.S. company United Technologies and its local subsidiary P&W-Rus, and the Kazan Helicopter Plant; and Tatneft, which already works with France's TotalFinaElf, Germany's Mineraloel-Rohstoff-Handels GmbH, and U.S. Ocean energy in successful ventures.

...Reports Growth Of Foreign Investments In Republic
"The Moscow Times" in the same article cites Flura Shaikhutdinova, head of the foreign investment department of Tatarstan's Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Ministry, as saying Tatarstan attracted more than $1.138 billion in foreign investment by the end of 2001. "Last year, foreign investment totaled $650.9 million, of which only $8.5 million was direct investment, $91.9 million was portfolio investment and $550.6 million was classed as 'other,' a category that includes loans," the paper adds. The companies that attracted the most investment included Tatneft, Ak Bars, KamAZ, and Nizhnekamskneftekhim.

According to Shaikhutdinova, 49.7 percent of foreign investment came from Switzerland, 24.9 percent from Britain, and 19.4 percent from Germany last year.

The article cites the "Vedomosti" daily as reporting that in the first half of this year, Tatarstan received $292.5 million in foreign investment, 3.2 percent up from the same period in 2001.

Scholar Claims Tatar Leadership Seeks To Repeatedly Register Tatars To Increase Rate Of Titular Nation...
Valerii Tishkov, director of the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the "Izvestiya" daily on 7 September that authorities in Russia's republics intend to multiply the number and percentage of those residents who belong to the "so-called titular nationality. In Tatarstan, [they] are ready rather to register [residents of] Tatar villages twice than to knock once on urban apartments occupied predominantly by Russians. Nationalism is blind, its logic is the lesser residents in the republic, the bigger share of 'ours.'"

...Drawing Criticism From Shaimiev, Threats To Boycott Census From Safiullin
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev sharply criticized Tishkov for promoting a policy aiming to divide Tatars into several nations and to separate from them Christian Tatars, Siberian Tatars, Mishers, Tipters, and others, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 9 September. Shaimiev was explaining the issue to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Kazan on 30 August. Putin responded, "I see, the matter is in the details," and promised "to look into" the issue. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" also quoted State Duma Deputy Fandas Safiullin as calling for a "boycott [of] the census in Tatarstan until Christian Tatars are included again into the Tatar people."

POZIS Exports Production To Yugoslavia, Moldova
The Yeshel Uzen Zavod Imeni Sergo (POZIS) delivered the first consignment of refrigerators to Yugoslavia, reported on 9 September. The agreement between POZIS and Belgrade's Djipeks on the delivery of 1,500 refrigerators was signed in July. Under the contract, Djipeks has exclusive rights to sell POZIS production in Yugoslavia and will represent it this month at an exhibition in Belgrade. POZIS also exports its production to Moldova, to which it will deliver 1,300 refrigerators by the end of next year, the agency said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

State News Agency Claims Tatar Principal's Statement 'Unethical,' 'Unjustified'
The state-run Bashinform news agency published an article on 9 September in which it criticized the director of the Tatar secondary school in Belebey, Nurmokhemmet Khoseyenov, for comments he made during Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with World Tatar Congress delegates in Kazan on 29 August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 and 4 September 2002).

In saying that "it is hard to be a Tatar" in Bashkortostan, Bashinform claimed that Khoseyenov had issued a verdict on behalf of the more than 1 million Tatars living in the republic, and that it was "unethical" to make such a claim and that his statement was "unjustified."

To back its rebuttal, Bashinform referred to state statistics claiming that 15 ethnic languages are taught in schools in Bashkortostan and that six of them -- Bashkir, Russian, Tatar, Chavash, Mari, and Udmurt -- are used to teach various subjects in schools. According to the official data, 65 percent of children in Bashkortostan have an opportunity to study their native language. Statistics also show that print media are reportedly published in eight ethnic languages, 37 percent of which are in Bashkir and 28 percent in Tatar.

Furthermore, the Bashinform article quoted Eduard Khamitov, chief executive of Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan, as saying recently that "Tatars live under the same conditions as other peoples in Bashkortostan." The agency added that President Putin responded to Khoseyenov's statement correctly when he said that nobody's life was easy.

An RFE/RL Ufa correspondent said the same day that the Bashinform article is being reprinted by state-owned media outlets throughout the republic, which make up a large percentage of media in Bashkortostan.

Official: Individuals Can Choose Their Nationality Freely During Census
Bashkir State Statistics Committee Chairman Ekrem Ganiev told a press conference in Ufa on 9 September that during the October Russian census, "everyone will have the right to register as a representative of any nationality" he or she wishes, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 10 September. He added that parents in interethnic marriages will have to decide how to register their children under the age of 18. During the previous census in 1989, such children were registered according to their mother's nationality.

State Committee Orders Changes In Relations With Bottle-Cap Manufacturer...
The Bashkir State Monitoring Committee announced on 9 September that state-owned distilleries cost the Bashkir budget some 37 million rubles ($1.17 million) in losses this year by choosing the Birsk Proizvodtsvennyi Kombinat (Birsk Production Plant) to manufacture bottle caps for their products, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 10 September. The committee ordered the management of the state-owned alcohol-production company, Bashspirt, which runs the republic's distilleries, to revise its contracts with the Birsk plant or to find bottle-cap manufacturers in other regions outside Bashkortostan, since Birsk's prices were at least twice as high as those of other companies.

...As Ufa's Main Distillery Facing Production Decline, Major Debts
Bashinform reported on 9 September that Zolotoi Vek (Golden Century), Ufa's main distillery, has current debts totaling 341.7 million rubles ($10.8 million). Zolotoi Vek was once one of the largest distilleries in the republic, but has seen its production decrease over the past two years.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi