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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 20, 2005

20 May 2005
Parliamentary Speaker Praises 'Maturity' Of Tatarstan's Press
Meeting with reporters on Tatarstan's Press Day, marked on 19 May, State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said that it is vital for the media to be involved in the ongoing municipal reform, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. He thanked reporters for a "balanced assessment of the situation in the republic and an uncompromising approach to the existing drawbacks." Mukhametshin said that the previous political campaigns have demonstrated the "maturity and responsibility of journalists before society." Commenting on municipal self-government reform. Mukhametshin said that in the current situation only 65 percent of more than 900 heads of local self-government councils have had any higher education. He said that under these circumstances there must be an effort made to attract more educated and higher-qualified specialists to govern "without letting in those who would exploit politics and speculate on existing social problems." Tatarstan's new local governments will be elected on 25 September.

TAIF Joins Tattelekom's Board Of Directors
The state-owned holding Svyazinvestneftekhim, which is the sole shareholder of the major communications company in Tatarstan, Tattelekom, used its right to place three new members on Tattelekom's board of directors, the Volga-Urals edition of "Kommersant" wrote on 20 May. The new directors entering Tattelekom's board were representatives of the TAIF group, which is controlled by the family of Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev. The state-owned holding that was run by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov reportedly explained the move by the "need to use TAIF's experience to speed up the planned merger of Tattelekom and the Kazan City Telephone Network [GTS]."

Tatar First Deputy PM Denounces Ukrainian Plans To Let Ukrnafta Run Petrochemical Industries
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has ordered Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko to ensure the handover of state-owned shares in that country's petrochemical companies to the Ukrnafta company for more efficient regulation of the country's oil and oil-product market, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 20 May. This decision repeats one previously declared by former President Leonid Kuchma and will affect 43 percent of the shares in Ukrtatnafta, the petrochemical company jointly owned by shareholders with close ties to Tatarstan. Tatarstan's first deputy premier and Ukrtatnafta's observation board chairman, Rawyl Moratov, told reporters the previous day that in his opinion, the result of this "insufficiently thought over and sudden decision would be just the opposite from what is expected" by Kyiv. He insisted that the shares handover represented a change of owner and in this case, according to Ukrainian laws, Ukrtatnafta's shareholders will have a priority to purchase the state-owned shares. Muratov said that although the state needs to have greater control over oil-processing industries, the "Ukrainian government is actually handing over control to private owners." He suggested that Yushchenko's decision was influenced by "strong lobbying from the PrivatBank of Ukraine."

Moscow Approves KamAZ Proposals On Automotive Industry Regulation
The Russian government has approved a list of proposals regarding the development of its domestic automotive industry that were suggested by the KamAZ auto company on 19 May, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The Tatarstan-based truck concern -- which is one of the first in Russia to develop Euro-1, Euro-2, and Euro-3 pollution standards for diesel engines -- had offered to introduce stricter pollution standards for Russian-made cargo vehicles. Moscow reportedly agreed to support a further transition to Euro-4 and Euro-5 standards for diesel machines.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Statistics Indicate A Slight Slump In Birthrates
In the first three months of 2005 some 11,000 children were born in Bashkortostan, indicating a 3 percent decrease compared to figures of the same period in 2004, REGNUM reported on 19 May, referring to the republican branch of the State Statistics Service.

Bashkortostan's Residents Spending More On Consumer Goods And Food...
From January-April in 2005, Bashkortostan's retail trade turnover reached 42.8 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) which is 12.1 percent higher than in the same period of 2004, REGNUM reported on 19 May. The total cost of purchased consumer products reportedly increased by some 16 percent, while the total amount of consumed food grew by 7 percent.

...As Republic Manages To Repay Part Of Back Wages To Its Employees
Meanwhile, during the same period, the total wages arrears to Bashkortostan's residents was reduced to 213.7 million rubles ($7.8 million), which is 37.1 percent lower than in the previous year.

Uralsib Hires Former HSBC Manager
Kamran Ulukhanov, former head of the business development department of HSBC office in Moscow, was appointed head of the corporate finance and investment-banking consulting branch of Bashkortostan's Uralsib Bank, AK&M reported on 20 May. Prior to his appointment Ulukhanov was known as a specialist in corporate goal-setting, strategy building, and implementation in corporate banking.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi