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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 22, 2002

22 October 2002
Tatarstan Seeks To Increase Gas Supplies From Gazprom
Tatar Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry Ferit Tuktarov told Intertat on 21 October that the republican government was seeking to increase the volume of gas received from Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in 2003, but these plans raised concerns over the reliability and capacity of gas pipelines in Tatarstan. He promoted the idea of renovating the gas-pipeline network in the republic to guarantee a stable supply to both private and industrial consumers, "because in the current technical conditions, during the winter season industries received less gas than in summer, because the majority was directed for ensuring the proper heating of residences."

Tuktarov added that, besides investments from Gazprom, this would require gas consumers in Tatarstan to establish partnerships for raising the necessary funds. Gazprom has allotted a quota of 14.2 billion cubic meters for gas supplies to Tatarstan and the republican government is currently negotiating with the monopoly for increasing the quota to 15.4 billion.

Government Provides Assistance To German-Russian Joint Venture In Chistay
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov met with a Siemens delegation led by board member Johann Lettner on 21 October to discuss the current operation of the Automotive Components joint venture of Siemens and Moscow's Mettam-M firm, established in 1996 in Chistay, Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The joint venture, producing dashboards Russian-made Lada vehicles and tachometers for trucks and buses, was seriously undermined by the 1998 financial crisis in Russia, but managed to recover and has been increasing output since 1999. Its annual production reached 198 million rubles ($6.2 million) in 2001 and Automotive Components is preparing to offer new dashboards for Tatarstan-produced KamAZ trucks, Oka vehicles, and the new Ladas. Tatarstan's government assisted the venture in obtaining a 1 million-euro ($980,000) loan for implementing its development project, requiring a total of 73.5 million rubles ($2.33 million) in investments. The republic will partially repay the interest on the loan, because the new project is expected to provide the republic an extra 25 million rubles ($786,000) in tax revenues while the federal budget is expected to benefit by an extra 19 million rubles ($597,000).

Russian Officials Doubt The Possibility Of Annexing Volzhsk To Tatarstan
Dmitrii Kozak, deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, commented on recent reports saying that the city government of Volzhsk in Marii El Republic wants to hold a referendum on its annexation into Tatarstan by asserting on 19 October that "transition of a municipality from one region to another is not an easy procedure," reported on 21 October. Kozak emphasized that this issue had to be solved with the entire region's consent and the Volzhsk mayor's office "will have to spend a lot of time explaining the necessity of a such move."

Tyumen Oblast Governor Sergei Sobyanin, a member of the Federation Council's working group on local self-governments, told the same briefing that there have been many such cases, because "many municipalities want to pass over to another, wealthier federation entity, but this is a very complicated procedure."

New Turkish Consul Expresses Interest In Tatar Oil
Tatar parliamentary speaker Farid Mukhametshin met the new Turkish consul-general in Kazan, Ismail Sefa Yujeer, who was appointed on 1 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 22 October. Both sides expressed their willingness to expand economic and cultural ties between the two republics. Yujeer stated his hope that "Tatarstan's oil supplies to Turkey will soon begin," while Mukhametshin expressed his readiness to assist Yujeer in getting to know the republic better.

Before his recent appointment, Yujeer worked as the third secretary in the embassy in Libya, vice consul in Los Angeles, second secretary of the embassy in Tehran, and adviser to the Turkish ambassador in Kazakhstan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Paper Suggests Rakhimov's Son Being Groomed To Succeed As President...
A commentary in "Ekspert. Ural" on 21 October suggested that Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov is grooming his son Ural to replace him as president following his next term. The weekly said that recent changes in Bashkortostan's economic policy, including the privatization of the republic's largest industrial companies, such as the Bashkir Fuel Company, Bashneftekhim, and Bashneft (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 September 2002), were likely initiated by Ural Rakhimov. The paper noted that it is Ural Rakhimov's influence that makes the Bashkir economy more attractive and open to foreign investors. The younger Rakhimov has headed the boards of a number of key companies, including Bashneftekhim, Bashneft, and Bashkirenergo, while those the paper referred to as the "old guard," who are loyal to the president, have not had much influence on the state of the economy.

...And Reports Growing Resentment Of Political Elite
In the same commentary, the weekly added that resentment toward the growing influence of Ural Rakhimov is on the rise among Bashkir politicians. The paper said that Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov is losing his traditional role of supervising economic policy. For example, Baidavletov has been an outspoken critic of plans to reform Russia's Unified Energy Systems (EES), but despite this, Bashkortostan has reached an agreement with EES in exchange for concessions on subscriber fees that EES claimed the republic owed. In addition, influential Deputy Prime Minister Engels Qolmokhemetov, who used to be in charge of the oil sector in the cabinet of ministers, was recently given the task of monitoring a less important sector of the economy, the paper said. The paper said that a broad coalition of disgruntled politicians has appeared in the republic, though they aren't likely to voice their displeasure too loudly yet.

Report Claims 100 Percent Participation In Census
According to preliminary data, 100 percent of the population of Bashkortostan participated in the Russian census, "Trud" reported on 19 October. Officials working at the State Statistics Committee's call center reported that only 3 percent of calls received involved "identity" issues. Other callers reportedly claimed that the "nationality" entry on the census questionnaire was not filled in in Tatar-populated villages. No such complaints have been confirmed, however, the daily reported.

Airliner Makes Emergency Landing In Ufa
A Pulkovo Airlines Tupolev 134 passenger jet made an emergency landing at Ufa airport at 6:30 a.m. on 21 October, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. The captain decided to land about 30 minutes after taking off for St. Petersburg because of an apparent problem with the plane's landing gear, the agency reported, citing the Bashkir Emergency Situations Ministry. None of the 21 passengers or eight crew members were injured.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova