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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 25, 2005

25 May 2005
Tatar Lawmakers Say Russian Flag Won't Fly Over Parliament...
Tatarstan's parliamentary Committee on the State System and Local Self-Government on 24 May rejected a request by Tatarstan's Prosecutor Office to eliminate violations of the law on Russian state symbols, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Prosecutors had notified Tatar State Council legislators they were failing to observe the federal law decreeing that the Russian flag be raised permanently at state buildings. The State Council flies only Tatarstan's flag on a permanent basis. Deputies argued that the building is undergoing major repairs and could be damaged if another flagstaff is installed on the roof. They have suggested a decision on the issue be withheld until the reconstruction is complete.

...Suggest Municipal Elections Be Postponed
State System and Local Self-Government Committee deputies suggested 24 May that the date of municipal elections in Tatarstan be moved from 25 September to 16 October, Tatar-inform reported that same day. State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin had said earlier that he doesn't exclude the possibility the local self-government ballots will be postponed, saying rural rayon residents oppose holding elections during harvest season. The issue is due to be discussed in a parliament plenary session. According to federal legislation, municipal elections in federative states are to be held by 1 November.

Referendum Against Tatneft Kaliningrad Project Fails
A referendum on the construction of oil port facilities in Svetlyi, in Kaliningrad Oblast, was ruled invalid because of low turnout, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 24 May. According to the oblast election commission, 48.59 percent of eligible voters took part in the referendum, 97 percent of whom opposed the construction of the oil facilities. The referendum organizers needed approximately 300 more votes in order to block what they say is an environmentally hazardous Tatneft project to create an oil-export shipping system to Western Europe.

Svetlyi administration head Aleksandr Grigorev told Regnum on 24 May that town authorities will attempt to block project construction despite the formal failure of the referendum. "I simply won't sign the oil companies' documents," Grigorev said, adding he can't go against the wishes of the over 10,000 residents who elected him.

Tatneft branch Baltnafta, working together with Moscow Industrial Base, a branch of Yeniseineft, is aiming to build the oil port facilities.

International Heroin Ring Convicted In Kazan
Tatarstan's Supreme Court on 24 May handed down sentences to members convicted of participation in an international drug syndicate involved in trafficking heroin from the Kyrgyz city of Osh to Tatarstan, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 25 May. The group sold over 400 kilograms of narcotics worth 200 million rubles ($7.1 million) over a period of two years. The 12 defendants in the case were sentenced to a total 94.5 years of imprisonment. The court sentenced Kyrgyz citizens Gulnara Yaminova, Kamila Mirzaeva, Akramzhon Abaraliev, Israil Baltabaev, Kabul Kochkarov, Radif Asadullin and Radik Nuraliev to prison sentences ranging between two-and-a-half years and 12 years. Tatarstan residents Sergei Usachev, Ruslan Galimov, Ferit Sadyiqov, Vasilii Prostatov and Airat Qarymov were sentenced to between seven-and-a-half years and 12 years in custody.

A jury on 16 May found all the suspects guilty on charges of participation in a criminal group, smuggling, and the illegal manufacturing, purchase, trafficking, and sale of narcotics. Asadullin, Nuraliev and Qarymov were also accused of organizing a criminal group. The Supreme Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict Nuraliev and Asadullin on that charge. The defendants' lawyers said they will appeal the verdict.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir PM Guarantees Repayment of Foreign Credits If Rakhimov Is Dismissed
The London-based HSBC Bank and Moscow People's Bank will provide between $100 million and $150 million in credits to the Bashkortostan government and companies, Interfax and RosBalt reported on 24 May, citing the Bashkir government press service. Bashkortostan Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov visited Britain on 17-21 May, during which he held negotiations with managers from Chinatrust Commercial Bank and Standard Bank London, and discussed the possibility of raising Bashkortostan's credit rating with officials from the Standard and Poor's international rating agency and Moody's Investor Service.

Interfax cited Baidavletov as saying obtaining credits has become increasingly complicated because of political instability in the republic. All of Bashkortostan's partners in London "raised the issue on the upcoming resignation of the republic president," Baidavletov said. Commenting on the conflict between President Murtaza Rakhimov and his son Ural, Baidavletov said, "the whole world knows that an unnatural antagonism between father and son that cannot be explained logically doesn't raise our investment attractiveness." The prime minister, however, sought to assure bank managers the Bashkir government will fulfill its financial obligations even if Murtaza Rakhimov is dismissed.

In April, the Moscow branch of HSBC Bank allocated $25 million in credit for the Bashkir government at a rate of 5 percent of annual interest.

Russian PM Thanks Rakhimov For Army Recruits
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov sent an official letter to Bashkir President Rakhimov to thank him for his achievements in "preparing Russian citizens for military service in 2004," RosBalt reported on 24 May, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. The letter was handed to Rakhimov by Russian armed forces General Staff Deputy Head General-Colonel Vasilii Smirnov. Rakhimov was also granted a certificate of honor by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov for his contribution to the work of the Russian armed forces and for Bashkortostan's distinction in best preparing citizens for military service.

In 2005, Bashkortostan won the competition held by the General Staff. The republic sends 13,000 draftees to the Russian Army every year.

Congress Of Oil, Gas Manufacturers Opens In Ufa
Some 270 fuel- and energy-sector companies from 14 countries -- including Russia, Denmark, France, Germany, and the United States -- displayed their products at the 6th Congress of Oil and Gas Manufacturers, which opened on 24 May in Ufa, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. President Rakhimov and Russian Oil and Gas Manufacturers Union President Gennadii Shmal attended the opening ceremony of the congress.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova