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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 28, 2005

28 April 2005
U.S. Chemical Company Seeks To Set Up Joint Ventures In Tatarstan
Tatarstan's acting Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and U.S. chemical company Crompton Vice President James Mason discussed prospects of mutual cooperation in Kazan on 26 April, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 27 April. The officials signed a protocol of intention to arrange joint projects in the chemical and agricultural sectors. Mason said "Tatarstan is a good platform for beginning business relations in this part of the world," adding that cooperation can develop through the establishment of joint ventures.

Minnikhanov listed Kazan Synthetic Rubber Plant, the Khiton chemical plant, and Tuben Kama Synthetic Oil Plant among potential partners of the U.S. company. On 27 April, American businessmen are scheduled to visit Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Nizhnekamskshina.

Crompton is one of world's leading manufacturers of special chemicals, polymers, and technologies with annual sales of $4.2 billion. The corporation has branches and subsidiaries in 100 countries.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Thanks Tatar Counterpart For Help In Overcoming Fuel Crisis...
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko during a press conference last week thanked Tatarstan's acting Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, who, she said along with the Kremenchug Oil Refinery "took the honest position and dispatched oil products to 500 filling stations at fixed prices," "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 26 April.

Minnikhanov and Tymoshenko had held negotiations during which they agreed on set prices for gasoline and diesel fuel. The daily commented that Tatarstan's position during the gasoline crisis in Ukraine was decisive and forced other leading companies in the Ukrainian market, LUKoil and TNK, to reduce their prices.

...As Ukrainian Officials Call For Return Of Kremenchug Refinery To State Ownership
Ukraine's State Property Fund Chairwoman Valentina Semenyuk said Ukraine plans to take away 18 percent of Ukrtatnafta shares belonging to Tatneft affiliates AmRuz and Sea Group, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 April.

Nationalization of the stake will deprive Tatneft of control over Ukraine's largest refinery, Kremenchug Oil Refinery. Semenyuk told the daily that "otherwise the state will be unable to control this plant and use it as an instrument of influencing the market." The daily cited an unidentified source close to the head of the Ukrtatnafta Observation Council, Tatarstan's acting First Deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov, calling the statement "a call to reprivatize in an aggressive manner that has nothing to do with the activities of the Ukrainian government."

Ukraine currently owns 43 percent of Ukrtatnafta, of which Tatneft possesses 8.6 percent and Tatarstan's Property Ministry, 28 percent.

German Citizen Convicted Of Illegal Purchase Of Explosives
The Tuben Kama city court on 27 April convicted German citizen Uve Kruger of trying to purchase and smuggle explosives that he intended to use to demolish his house to obtain insurance, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 28 April. Kruger was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service's Tatarstan board on 6 May 2003 as he was trying to purchase 20 kilograms of explosives. In his testimony, Kruger said he did not commit any crime and claimed that the "investigation was held with harsh violations."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Interior Ministry Official Loses Defamation Suit Against Opposition Newspaper
Ufa's Soviet Raion court rejected on 27 April a defamation suit by Bashkir Deputy Interior Minister Anatolii Smirnov against the opposition newspaper "Otechestvo," which published critical articles about the December police raid in Blagoveshchensk, RosBalt reported the same day. "Otechestvo" journalist Artur Asafev told the news agency that the court found the plaintiff's requests unfounded and denied his demand of 500,000 rubles in compensation. Similar lawsuits have been filed by the deputy interior minister and leadership of Bashkortostan's special police troops against the Blagoveshchensk newspaper "Zerkalo" and Moscow-based "Novaya gazeta." The court also delayed hearing a similar lawsuit by the Bashkir special forces against "Otechestvo" until prosecutors finish the investigation of the Blagoveshchensk case.

Newspaper: President's Son Behind Opposition Protests
"Izvestiya" wrote on 27 April that plans by Bashkortostan's opposition for regime change in the republic using the "Ukrainian variant" during the May holidays were supported, including financially, by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov's son Ural. In order to overthrow the republic's authorities, Ural Rakhimov, who is seeking to preserve his control over the republic's fuel-and-energy companies, planned to cut off power to the Sterletamaq-based Kauchuk plant and provoke an uprising among the plant's 30,000 employees and their relatives. The daily cited unidentified sources in the republican government as saying that "people sent by Ural" were repeatedly seen talking to Kauchuk employees, telling them that President Rakhimov is behind the power cuts. Ural Rakhimov's plan failed because of a ban on power cuts by Bashkortostan's leadership through a court ruling, according to the daily.

BTK Elects New Chairman
Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress (BTK) presidium elected Bashkir State Agrarian University Sociology Department head Rushan Gallemov its new chairman, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 27 April. The post had been empty since February, when Eduard Khemitov became a State Duma deputy. In a vote by secret ballot, Gallemov collected 14 votes against 12 for Reshit Memliev, the head of an Ufa construction company who was nominated by Khemitov. Gallemov spoke for "equal dialogue with Bashkortostan's authorities" and promoting state-language status for Tatar. Gallemov's supporters in the presidium said his appointment means that Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress will no longer be in the "pocket" of the republic's authorities.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova