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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 1, 2002

1 October 2002
Tatneft To Repay $300 Million Worth Of Eurobonds...
Tatneft financial board head Yevgenii Tikhturov said the oil company will repay $300 million worth of its eurobonds by November, Interfax reported on 30 September. Tikhturov said that the Tatneft board of directors allocated funds from the company budget on 27 September to repay eurobonds in the fourth quarter of 2002. Tatneft issued $300 million worth of five-year eurobonds on international markets in 1997 at 9 percent interest and repayment of coupons twice a year. Dresdner Bank Kleinwort Benson was the leading manager and PricewaterhouseCoopers served as the financial consultant.

...Backs Oil Quality Bank
Tatneft and Bashneft together with Russia's other leading oil companies backed the idea of creating an oil quality bank, Prime-TASS reported on 30 September citing Transneft officials. The oil company heads decided at a meeting with Transneft President Semen Vainshtok to establish a working group to develop proposals for forming an oil quality bank, the agency said. Tatneft and Bashneft said tax breaks will be introduced parallel to the creation of an oil quality bank. Tatneft officials had repeatedly criticized the oil quality bank, saying it would discriminate against some companies, particularly those working in the Volga-Ural region, where deposits are of poorer quality and mostly spent. Tatneft had stressed that in the 1970s the company invested major resources in developing deposits in western Siberia, while "currently other companies work there."

Three Tatneft Representatives Elected To Controversial MNPZ Board
At a shareholders meeting on 27 September for the Moscow oil refinery (MNPZ), three representatives of Tatneft and six members from Sibneft were elected to the company's new board of directors, "Kommersant" reported on 28 September. Not a single representative of the Moscow administration, which owns a controlling interest in the company, was elected to the board. The Moscow Arbitration Court had banned the meeting from being held but bailiffs failed to implement the court decision. The new board elected MNPZ Deputy Director Andrei Komarov as board chairman and Sergei Ilyin, previously the commercial director at the Bryanskii machine-building plant, as general director, "Kommersant" reported on 30 September. The Moscow administration considers any decisions made at the meeting to be illegitimate, and said that previous MNPZ directors are not going to resign. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov accused Sibneft of trying "to capture the oil market" of the capital and said he won't let anyone do that.

Earlier this year, Tatneft, which owns 10 percent of MNPZ shares, unsuccessfully negotiated the purchase of a 33.3 percent stake in Sibir Energy for $240 million. Tatneft then signed a partnership agreement with Sibneft, which owns 37 percent of the shares on joint actions at MNPZ.

Russian Government Purchases FLK Controlling Interest
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed on 30 September a resolution on the federal government's purchase of a 58 percent stake in the Finance Leasing Company (FLK) for 1.575 billion rubles, "Kommersant" reported the same day. FLK was a provider of the first leasing deal in Russia's aviation sector, as a result of which Dalavia leased a Kazan-produced Tu-214. Among FLK shareholders are the Tatar government, Tatneft, the investment and finance company Solid, and Zenit bank. The resolution charges the Federal Finance Ministry to allocate 700 million rubles to increase FLK capital, according to the federal law on the 2002 federal budget.

TIU Expresses Solidarity With Georgia
The Tatar Public Center (TIU) issued a statement on 30 September on the situation in the Pankisi Gorge and Russian-Georgian relations, in which it declared its support for the thoughtful policy of Georgia's leadership which it said has prevented bloodshed, and wished Georgian officials "fortitude" in overcoming "all of the troubles created by a dangerous neighbor." The TUI leaders expressed confidence that many problems in the North Caucasus can be resolved only in the case that "all occupational troops" are withdrawn from the region. They said that the current conflict, which is artificial and has roused militantism under the slogan of fighting terrorism, is a continuation of "Russia's imperial policy." The statement calls Russia's actions in Chechnya and Georgia an attempt to regain control of a humble state and to restore at least part of the territories that have been lost.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Elite Sends Message Of Concern To Tatar President
A number of prominent members of Bashkortostan's intellectual and artistic elite have sent a message to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev condemning the "destructive forces attempting to cause tension and discord between the Tatar and Bashkir peoples," Bashinform reported on 30 September. Among those who signed the letter were Ravil Bikbaev, head of the Bashkir Writers Union; Marsel Salimov, chairman of the Bashkir Journalists Union; Aleksandr Filippov, editor in chief of "Istoki" weekly and head of the section of Russian writers in the Bashkir Writers Union; actresses Gulli Mobaryakova and Feride Kodasheva; and Ural Girfatullin, director of the Tatar Nur Theater in Ufa.

The authors of the message praised Shaimiev for being a "wise and prudent" leader, but they also said they were worried by the alleged "Bashkirization" of Tatars and claims of violations of Tatar rights in Bashkortostan. The authors countered such claims, saying that Bashkortostan has provided very favorable conditions for Tatar writers, poets, actors, scholars, and public figures in comparison with other Tatar-populated areas outside Tatarstan.

The authors of the letter also claimed that some individuals have received the support of certain representatives of Tatarstan's government in attempting to "falsify history."

Bashkir Concerts Planned In Wake Of Cancellation Of Tatar Performances
The Bashkir State Statistics Committee has organized a number of concerts by Bashkir performers throughout the republic in order to raise awareness of the upcoming national census later this month, RosBalt reported on 30 September. The tour will be completed with an open-air concert in Ufa on 11 October.

Meanwhile, Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Khelef Ishmoratov recently denied Tatarstan's State Ensemble of Folk Singing and Dancing permission to perform in Bashkortostan, saying that the concerts should be delayed until January because of "poor weather conditions and harvesting," (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 September 2002).

Moscow Sends Words Of Praise For Fall Harvest
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev sent a telegram to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov on 30 September, congratulating him on "a major victory" during this year's grain harvest, in which republican farmers gathered more than 4 million tons of grain. Gordeev praised Bashkortostan's agricultural-development policies and the work of local farmers and regional administration officials.

Government Discusses Loss-Making Companies
The Bashkir cabinet held a meeting on 28 September to discuss the problem of unprofitable companies in the republic, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 30 September. Minister of Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Trade Boris Kolbin told the meeting that as of August, 38.8 percent of companies in the republic were unprofitable, which represents a slight decrease since April when it was reported that 42.4 percent of companies in the republic were not turning profits. Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov said Kolbin's ministry should increase its activities to reduce the number of unprofitable companies and should pay more attention to top management in industrial enterprises to make sure that only "reliable people" are appointed.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi