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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 15, 2005

15 March 2005
Turkey To Sell Tupras Shares In Open Auction
Turkey's market competition Commission has approved government plans to sell a 51 percent state-owned stake in the Tupras petrochemical concern, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 15 March, citing Bloomberg. The shares will reportedly be sold at an open auction in April 2005. In late 2004, Turkey's privatization administration cancelled a $1.3 billion deal to sell the Tupras shares to Tatarstan's Tatneft and the Tukish Zorlu Holding, following protests by trade unions.

Tatar Parliament Amends Constitution To Abolish Presidential Elections
Tatarstan's State Council on 14 March passed constitutional amendments under which the republic's president is to be appointed by the Russian president and approved by the local parliament, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on the same day. The amendments were passed in the second and third readings, thus fulfilling the requirements of the federal law introducing the new procedure, which cancelled open gubernatorial elections. President Mintimer Shaimiev must still endorse the amendments for them to take force.

Parliament Speaker Pledges Support For Shamiev In Parliament
State Council chairman Farid Mukahmetshin told the reporters on 14 March that he is due to receive a letter from the Russian president asking for the parliament's confirmation of Mintimer Shaimiev's reappointment for another term in office, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on the same day. Mukhametshin said the parliament will "in a friendly fashion support" the acting president of the [Tatarstan] Republic, "who has a high political rating and the support of the voters and in the parliament as well." According to Murtametshin, this support "will mean stability and will calm down the government bodies and political parties, allowing them to work calmly and confidently." The parliament is reportedly set to consider Mintimer Shaimiev's candidacy for president no later than March 2005.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Duma Rejects Bashkortostan's Proposal
The State Duma rejected on 11 March a legislative initiative of the Bashkir State Assembly seeking to eliminate the direct election of the heads of the city and raion administrations and have them appointed instead, Interfax reported on the same day. The draft amendments to the federal law on the general principles of the organization of local self-government in Russia was backed in the first reading by 14 deputies and opposed by 226. Bashkortostan Deputy Mikhail Bugera (Unified Russia), who proposed the draft, suggested that local self-government bodies be formed only on the village and city raion level, while governing bodies on the level of cities and republic raions be included in the power vertical.

Mezhprombank Office Disconnected From Heating
The leadership of the Ufa branch of Mezhprombank appealed on 11 March to the Bashkortostan�s prosecutor�s office, urging it to file a criminal case alleging that the Ufa municipal service abused its authority on 10 March when it disconnected the heating supply for the bank office, which provides services for over 40,000 people, �Kommersant-Volga-Urals� reported on 12 March. Bank leaders believe the measure was political and aimed against Sergei Veremeenko, a former director of Mezhprombank and a rival of President Rakhimov in the last presidential race. On 11 March, the bank was informed that an agreement on the supply of running water and water drain would be dissolved as of 14 March. At a news conference on 11 March, bank officials warned those people responsible for such measures that their actions could result in �the violation of interests of thousands of Ufa residents being bank clients.� Bank representatives note that it is isn't the first time such methods have been used. In 2003, the building of the Tax Ministry�s Bashkortostan�s Board, then headed by Sergei Veremeenko�s brother Aleksandr, was deprived of municipal services for a lengthy period.

Communists Protest Social Benefits Reform
Some 300 people took part in a meeting organized by the Communist Party on 13 March in Ufa to protest federal reforms seeking to monetize social benefits, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 14 March. Protesters called for the dismissal of the Russian president and dissolution of the Russian government and the State Duma and restoration of in-kind social benefits.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova