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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 19, 2004

19 October 2004
Sberbank Issues $740 Million's Credit For Kazanorgsintez
Tatarstan's TAIF, Kazanorgsintez (KOS), and Russia's Sberbank signed on 12 October in Moscow a general cooperation agreement under which the bank will open a credit line for KOS to fulfill its $840 million strategic-development program, and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 12 and 13 October, respectively.

Sberbank First Deputy Board Chairwoman Alla Aleshkina said the bank intends to provide $740 million in credits for KOS investment projects. Aleshkina said the money will be allocated in two parts, the first of which will be $240 million provided from this fall through 2007. She added that a corresponding decision may be passed by Sberbank in October-November. In the second stage, which is to finish in 2011, the bank will credit KOS another $500 million.

TAIF General Director Albert Shihabetdinov said TAIF took part in the agreement as a guarantor of loans, and added that the company will maintain its control of KOS. Shihabetdinov also said money received in the initial stage will be used to finance an increase of polyethylene production from 190,000 tons to 500,000 tons a year, ethylene production from 334,000 tons to 590,000 tons a year, and the construction of plants for the production of bisphenol A and polycarbonate. In the second stage, production of ethylene-propylene 600 and polyethylene 350 will be launched.

KOS manufactures more than 1 million tons of organic chemical products a year, and accounts for 38 percent of Russia's polyethylene production, 46 percent of its production of polyethylene pipes, 21 percent of phenol, and 22 percent of acetone. Having 1.9 billion rubles' capital, the company posted 1.7 billion rubles in sales in 2003 and a net profit of 889 million rubles. TAIF, which is controlled by President Mintimer Shaimiev's son Radik, comprises more than 30 investment, telecommunications, oil refining, petrochemical, and construction companies and controls 47 percent of KOS.

Shaimiev Proposes Elimination Of Mayoral Elections
State Duma Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 October that President Mintimer Shaimiev, who is member of Unified Russia's Supreme Council, has suggested that the proposed abolishment of direct elections of governors in Russia be accompanied by similar measure as regards city mayors. Tatar authorities are apparently ready to back a new mechanism of electing governors on the condition that governors are given the authority to appoint mayors in their jurisdiction.

PACE Officials Meet With Representatives Of Ethnic Minorities...
Visiting Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) members David Atkinson and Rudolf Bindig met on 12 October in Kazan with heads of Tatarstan's national cultural autonomies, reported the same day. At the meeting, representatives of South Caucasus and Middle Asia discussed their problems in obtaining citizenship and employment. Ukrainians shed light on violations of labor legislation regarding foreign workers while representatives of Tatarstan's indigenous peoples -- Mariis, Mordovians, Udmurts, and Bashkirs -- called for the establishment of a newspaper that would report on the communities. Visitors addressed numerous questions to the head of the Chechen-Ingush national cultural autonomy concerning interethnic relations and were met with the answer that members of the autonomy do not face any problems. Atkinson concluded that he has never met such a colorful spectrum of peoples living in complete peace and concord. He added that Tatarstan should be a model in this respect for all of Russia and, the most importantly, for the North Caucasus.

...As Well As Religious And Political Leaders
On 12 October, the PACE officials held meetings with Tatarstan's religious leaders and heads of republic's political parties, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 12 October. In the first gathering, representatives of the Russian Orthodox, Catholic, Old Believers, Christian Coast Dwellers, and Lutheran churches, Pentecostalists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Judaism, and the Muslim Religious Board were in attendance.

Old Believers complained that under Russian law they are not permitted to work in law enforcement bodies because they have beards. Muslim representatives expressed their concerns over the media's treatment of Muslims.

During a second meeting attended by representatives of the republic's 11 political organizations, KPRF and Yabloko members complained of violations during elections. Tatarstan -- Yanga Gasyr (Tatarstan -- New Century) leaders expressed their disagreement with the provision of federal law prohibiting registration of regional movements as political parties.

Tatar Officials Discuss Putin's Administration Reform With PACE Representatives...
At a meeting with visiting PACE officials David Atkinson and Rudolf Bindig on 13 October, State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin spoke about recent initiatives by the Russian president to introduce a new system of electing heads of Russian regions. Mukhametshin said that sometime during Boris Yeltsin's presidency and the formation of a new democratic state a threat to the country's integrity emerged. Mukhametshin said that the heads of the legislatures of the Volga Federal District's entities have proposed amendments to the corresponding federal law. Under the amendments, candidates proposed by the Russian president as entity leaders must be residents of those regions. The same day, the visitors met with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Chief Federal Inspector to Tatarstan Marsel Gelimerdenov, and senior officials from the Interior Ministry. Atkinson said Tatarstan's experience in cooperation between government bodies and representatives of ethnic minorities is a model not only for Russia but for the entire world.

...As Journalists Discuss Media Problems
Meeting with representatives of the republic's media on 12 October, the PACE officials said they were impressed by the number of media organizations in Tatarstan. There are 178 state media organizations and 711independent media outlets. Some journalists highlighted problems, such as economic dependence on the state and the scarcity of Tatar-language media organizations.

Parliament Official Says Administrative Reform Eliminates Tatarstan's Statehood
In an interview with "Zvezda povolzhya" on 14 October, Tatar State Council Economic Development and Investments Committee Chairman Marat Galiev said the administrative reform initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin will mean for Tatarstan the loss of its statehood. Galiev said the reforms will affect most of all Article 5 of the Russian Constitution, under which republics are states. Galiev added that if officials are no longer directly elected, then it will be necessary to completely change Tatarstan's Constitution. Commenting on Putin's thesis of Russia being in a state of war, Galiev said, "if this is a real war, then a corresponding legislative act should be adopted" but in fact "a secret military management is being introduced." The system currently being proposed is in many respects adopted from Soviet times, he said.

Asked about whether Putin will demand that the post of Tatar president be abolished, Galiev said the trend is to equalize Russia's entities. He added that unlike governors who head the executive in other regions, the Tatar president is the head of the republic and thus holds not only executive but also legislative powers. He expressed the hope that the republic will maintain the post of president through its power-sharing treaty. Galiev also predicted that there will be some modification of the power-sharing treaty between Tatarstan and Russia. There has never been and will never be full equality among Russia's regions, he said, adding that "Tatarstan will not reconcile itself to the full loss of statehood."

Republic's Supreme Court Confirms Abolition Of BTIU Chally Branch
Tatarstan's Supreme Court has verified the Chally City Court verdict on the abolishment of the local branch of the Tatar Public Center (BTIU), an RFE/RL Chally correspondent reported on 12 October. The lawsuit was initiated in August by Tatarstan's Justice Ministry, which said the Chally organization did not succeed in reregistering, which violates the law on public associations. The BTIU branch also did not provide reports on its activities. Branch leader Rafis Kashapov argued that the law applies to the BTIU as a whole, not to its separate branches and appealed the Chally court verdict in the Supreme Court. Following the ruling, branch leaders said they will again appeal the decision to the Russian Supreme Court and then, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights.

Kazan Residents Mark 1552 Defense Of City, Chide Moscow
Participants in a demonstration on 15 October to mark the defense of Kazan from the forces of Ivan the Terrible in 1552 urged a "restoration of the Tatar Constitution in the form it was adopted in 1992" and "equal rights in relations with Russia within the framework of a potential Eurasian confederation," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau and Tatar media reported. An estimated 300 people took part in the rally, which was organized by the Tatar Public Center on Kazan's Freedom Square. Participants also demanded that steps be taken immediately to commemorate the memory of the city's 16th-century defenders by erecting a monument near the Kazan Kremlin. Some speakers criticized Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov over his efforts to return the Kazan Mother of God icon to Tatarstan's capital, saying they were linked to "colonial enslavement and humiliation of the Tatar people." Placards handed out at the demonstration called for "Kazan's Millennium Without Kamil Iskhaqov."

The resolution that emerged from the gathering also included calls for a halt to "predatory payments to Moscow," an elimination of "colonial taxes," and the introduction of single-channel interbudgetary relations with Moscow. Speakers accused Moscow of trying to deprive Tatar people of statehood, script, and economic independence, calling the administrative reforms recently urged by Putin a "direct path to a dictatorship." Participants appealed to the republican leadership to "defend the interests of the Tatar people."

Participants eventually marched to the Kazan Kremlin, where they held a prayer in memory of the city's defenders who died in 1552.

Defense Ministry Plans To Order 70,000 Automobiles From KamAZ
Russian Defense Ministry officials told a scientific conference on weapon and military development on 14-15 October at the KamAZ automobile concern in Chally that the ministry plans to place an order with KamAZ for production of some 70,000 vehicles, local news agencies reported on 15 October. Russian Deputy Defense Minister and rearmament head General Aleksei Moskovskii said the ministry spends as much as 4.5 billion rubles ($155 million) a year to maintain obsolete vehicles, adding that it would be cheaper to purchase new ones instead. The need for new vehicles totals about 150,000, he added, roughly half of which the ministry plans to order from KamAZ. Most active purchases are planned from 2006, while the ministry currently purchases some 3,000 vehicles a year.

Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev commented that "the Defense Ministry is not a bad debtor" but also suggested that it "is not the best." "It has debts," he added. "The state thus allows itself loans at the expense of manufacturers." Shaimiev emphasized that KamAZ is ready to fulfill any strategic or tactical orders.

Parliament Opposes Revival Of Death Penalty
Tatarstan's State Council rejected a proposal on 13 October that would have abolished the current moratorium on capital punishment for grave crimes, RFE/RL reported on 15 October. The measure was initiated by the Sakhalin and Bryansk oblast parliaments. Thirty-five republican deputies voted to maintain the moratorium, 31 backed its abolition, and 14 abstained.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashneft Traders Under Investigation In Kalmykia
The Kalmykia prosecutor's office filed on 30 September a criminal case accusing Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) traders of tax evasion in 2001-2002, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 8 October. Previously, the Tax Ministry has accused the Engan company, which was selling oil and oil products through Bashneft-TNK, with concealing 1.6 billion rubles ($55 million) of unpaid value-added tax (VAT) and fines. Engan was involved in the sale of oil products from Bashkir oil refineries to Rinex Energy, the Gibraltar division of Crown Resources, Kazakhstan's Binom, and subdivisions of Anfira Trading. Bashneft-TNK was established by Bashneft and TNK in 1998 to supply Bashkir oil refineries with oil. In 2001, Bashneft sold its 35 percent share in Bashneft-TNK to TNK's Crown Resources, while TNK sold 65 percent of the company to undisclosed buyers. In April, Bashneft-TNK was abolished.

Republic Day Celebrated In Bashkortostan
Republic Day was marked in Bashkortostan on 11 October, Bashkir and Russian media reported the same day. The holiday was established in 1990 when the republic's Declaration of Sovereignty was adopted. To mark the event, an overpass through Salawat Yulaev Avenue was opened in the republic's capital. The first new kindergarten in the last 15 years opened in Ufa, where 8,000 children are on waiting lists to attend nursery schools.

Tatars Fell Behind Bashkirs In 2002 Census
In an interview with on 12 October, Bashkortostan ethnologist Ildar Gebdrefyiqov cited official results of the 2002 national census concerning Bashkortostan's ethnic makeup provided by the Russian Statistics Committee, according to which the number of Bashkirs exceeded Tatars in Bashkortostan. Of the republic's population of 4.1 million, 1.49 million or 36.3 percent were Russians, 1.22 million, or 29.8 percent Bashkirs, and 990,702 or 24.1 percent Tatars. Thus the number of Tatars fell by 131,000 since the 1989 census while that of Bashkirs grew by 260,000 in the same period. In 1989, Tatars were the second-largest ethnic group in the republic at 29 percent, followed by Bashkirs at 22 percent.

Meanwhile, Gebdrefyiqov said his ongoing monitoring of Bashkortostan's ethnic makeup provides evidence that the share of Tatars in the republic's population in the 2002 census should have been about 30 percent, while that of Bashkirs should have been about 23 percent. Gebdrefyiqov said the registration of Tatars as Bashkirs during the census resulted in the rise in the number of Bashkirs. He added that this is how the republic's leadership and the Bashkir national movement managed to make Bashkirs the second-most-numerous ethnicity in the republic. And republican authorities still have not announced the official results of the census concerning ethnic makeup.

National Muslim Human Rights Organization Established
Kamilzhan Kalandarov, a member of the Russian presidential Human Rights Commission and director of the Human Rights Institute, announced in Moscow on 12 October the formation of a Russia-wide civic organization named Haq-Justice to defend Russia's Muslims and other peoples from extremism, terror, and ethnic discord, Regnum reported the same day. Haq-Justice was established on the basis of the Islamic Human Rights Center and the Human Rights Institute and was supported by President Vladimir Putin and the presidents of Tatarstan, Daghestan, Bashkortostan, and Chechnya. Kalandarov expressed his hope for cooperation with representatives of all faiths, adding that several consultations have been held. Islamic Human Rights Center Director and Association of Mosques of Russia Chairman Mufti Ismagil Shangareev said Haq-Justice branches have been set up in 50 of Russia's regions. Moscow Helsinki Group Chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseeva commented that the appearance of Haq-Justice is an important event for the whole human rights community as there is no "other similar Muslim human rights organizations in our country."

Bashkir Human Rights Activist Arrested
Ufa Soviet Raion acting prosecutor Rostem Geinetdinov said on 13 October that human rights activist Vladimir Simarchuk had been arrested on suspicion of violating an 18-year-old army deserter, Interfax and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 13 and 14 October, respectively. Simarchuk is the chairman of an organization that defends the rights of servicemen and their families. The deserter, a Bashkir citizen, appealed to the raion prosecutor's office on 9 October to press charges against Simarchuk. The deserter said that Simarchuk raped him in his office, where he came for a consultation in late September. The soldier said that he deserted from the army in March, but realized his wrongdoing. The committee was established in 1990 at the initiative of former military pilot Simarchuk. The committee delivers humanitarian aid to servicemen in Tajikistan, Daghestan, and Chechnya, and carries out educational work among draftees and their parents.

Lawyer Of Arrested Human Rights Activist Shares Own View Of Situation
Filyus Ismegyilev, a lawyer for Committee for Social Defense of Servicemen Chairman Vladimir Simarchuk, who was arrested on 11 October on allegation of violating an 18-year-old army deserter, told "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 15 October that someone wants to slander Simarchuk and the prosecutor's office issued false information. Ismegyilev said no accusation against Simarchuk has yet been produced while allegations are based on a complaint where no violation is mentioned, only sexual solicitation. The lawyer emphasized that articles immediately appeared in local media following the incident saying that the committee has exhausted itself and real help can be obtained only in the military enlistment office. He also said the committee has been actively defending servicemen in court for some time and this "was not playing into certain officials' hands."

Simarchuk has persistently criticized the fact that Bashkortostan sends many more draftees to the army than Moscow, despite Bashkortostan's population's being much smaller than that of the Russian capital.

Rakhimov Discusses Cooperation Projects With Kazakh Leadership...
An official delegation from Bashkortostan led by President Murtaza Rakhimov attended the opening of the republic's Kazakh representation in Astana on 15 October, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported the same day. The office is the republic's 10th mission, following eight in Russia's regions and one in Austria. The republic is preparing to open similar missions in Turkey and Uzbekistan. During his visit, Rakhimov met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov. A cooperation agreement between Bashkortostan and the Astana administration was signed by Rakhimov and Astana administration head Umirzak Shukeev. Rakhimov also held talks with Russia's legal adviser in Kazakhstan, Sergei Kopeiko, on prospects of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia and Bashkortostan. The visiting heads of over 30 Bashkir companies, including Bashneftekhim, Bashneft, Bashkirenergo, and Salavatnefteogrsintez, took part in a business forum of Bashkir and Kazakh business circles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Miass Mayor Convicted Of Bribery
The Chelyabinsk Oblast Court on 12 October sentenced Miass Mayor Vladimir Grigoriadi to eight years in prison and 1 million rubles' fine for taking a bribe, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 13 October. Grigoriadi's lawyers said they will appeal the verdict before the Russian Supreme Court. Grigoriadi was arrested by the Federal Security Service's Chelyabinsk Oblast Directorate in his office in May as he was allegedly accepting a 155,000 ruble ($5,300) bribe from local businessman Nikolai Zaitsev. Investigators determined that Grigoriadi extorted from Zaitsev another 805,000 rubles in 2001-04. Investigators also found 2.5 million rubles during a search of Grigoriadi's apartment.

Chelyabinsk Police Take Muslims' Fingerprints
Muslims who attended the evening prayer in the Chelyabinsk central mosque on 8 October were detained by Interior Ministry employees as they were leaving the mosque, reported on 13 October. The Muslims were reportedly taken to the nearest interior department, fingerprinted and videotaped, and then released. No documents or explanations were produced to the detainees, according to the report.

Chelyabinsk Residents Afraid Of Becoming Victims Of Terrorists
Some 40 percent of Chelyabinsk residents fear that they or their loved ones may become victims of terrorist attacks at any time, while 23 percent feel very strong fear of this, reported on 11 October. Some 11 percent believe they won't be victimized by terrorist attacks. The data was obtained in a survey held recently in the city by the Chelyabinsk branch of the Ural Academy of State Service. Asked about necessary measures to prevent acts of terrorism, 35 percent called for restricting migration of people from the North Caucasus. The same portion of people asked for stricter punishments for terrorists, including the death penalty. Seventeen percent called for the deportation of all those involved in terrorism to remote raions of Siberia. Some 17 percent said it was necessary to take decisive measures to defeat Chechen fighters and to revive the Chechen economy.

Kirienko Wins Defamation Suit Against 'Novaya Gazeta'
Presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko has won a defamation suit against "Novaya gazeta," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 13 October. A court demanded that the publication apologize for its accusations that Kirienko had embezzled $4.8 billion worth of credit issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the eve of the Russia's 1998 financial crisis. Newspaper columnist Georgii Rozhnov wrote seven articles on the disappearance of the money and accused then-Prime Minister Kirienko of embezzling it. An article published on 28 June referred to an appeal by five American congressmen to the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell saying the alleged embezzlement was linked to purchases by Kirienko of real estate in the United States and his attempts to become a U.S. citizen. The letter, however, turned out to be fake. The newspaper will appeal the verdict.

Suspect Cleared Of Killing Tolyatti Editor
The Tolyatti Komsomolskii Raion Court on 11 October acquitted Yevgenii Maininger, who was accused of killing "Tolyattinskoe obozrenie" Editor in Chief Aleksei Sidorov, Regnum and reported on 12 October. Sidorov was murdered in October 2003 by a man who stabbed him 15 times with an ice pick. According to investigators, Sidorov was killed after he had been drinking alcohol outside the entrance of his house. Maininger, who was arrested soon after the crime took place, confessed but later retracted his testimony saying he made it under severe pressure from investigators. The Samara Oblast prosecutor's office said it will appeal the verdict. In April 2002, Sidorov's predecessor at "Tolyattinskoe obozrenie," Valerii Ivanov, was shot in Tolyatti. The murder is still unsolved.

PACE Officials Promote Jehovah's Witnesses HQ In Yekaterinburg
A visiting delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) demanded that the Yekaterinburg administration allocate premises for Jehovah's Witnesses, reported on 12 October. The visitors expressed their concern that local authorities had prevented the group from constructing a house for prayers in Yekaterinburg. The Yekaterinburg administration said, however, that it had allotted a plot of land to construct the house but members of the religious group had failed to collect signatures of local residents saying they agreed to the construction.

Tyumen Administration To Pay For Terrorism-Related Information
A fund for people who help prevent acts of terrorism in the region will be set up in Tyumen Oblast, Uralinformbyuro reported on 11 October. A corresponding resolution was signed by oblast Governor Sergei Sobyanin on 11 October. The news agency cited the gubernatorial press service as reporting that 7 million rubles ($240,000) will be contributed to the fund from the gubernatorial reserve. The money will be paid for people offering reliable information on the preparation of terrorist acts, the location of terrorists, and organizations financing terrorism. The gubernatorial administration will supervise the distribution of money.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova