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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 27, 2005

27 May 2005
Republican Parliament Sends New Senator To Federation Council...
Tatarstan's State Council confirmed former Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov on 26 May as a parliamentary representative to the Federation Council, Tatar-inform, and Interfax reported the same day. Pakhomov replaces Irina Larochkina, who was appointed republican environment minister. The cabinet reshuffle came in the wake of the nomination on 25 March of Mintimer Shaimiev as Tatarstan's president for a new term.

...Postpones Local Elections...
At its plenary session on 26 May, the State Council voted to postpone local elections to self-government structures from 25 September to 16 October, citing the "harvest season" and "vacation period," Tatarinform and reported the same day. Speaker Farid Mukhametshin told reporters the same day that the new date is in line with federal legislation. Analysts suggested that Kazan Mayor Khamil Iskhaqov benefited most from the measure, since Iskhaqov would otherwise have to depart ahead of the balloting for Kazan millennial celebrations. But a presidential adviser on political issues, Rafael Khekimov, argued in "Kommersant-Idel-Urals" on 27 May that it is unlikely that Iskhaqov's interests are behind the postponement of elections, saying, "The mayor is, of course, an important person but not [important] enough to postpone elections to suit him."

...And Agrees To Seek Ways To Place Russian Flag On Parliament Building
The parliament voted on 26 May to consider a request by the republican Prosecutor-General's Office to remedy violations of federal legislation regarding federal symbols, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Speaking at parliament's plenary session, Tatarstan First Deputy Prosecutor Artem Nikolaev noted that only the Tatarstan flag is installed atop the republican parliament building, while federal law demands the presence of the Russian flag on state administrative buildings.

A committee on the federal system and local self-government the previous day passed a decision to reject the prosecutor's request, countering that installation of another flagpole might damage the building, which is reportedly undergoing major repairs. Speaker Mukhametshin said at the plenary session that "in legal terms, the Prosecutor-General's Office's request is correct." He urged that the prosecutor's request be taken into account, saying, "This means we have discussed the issue...and continue looking for technical ways to satisfy the request."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bolivia, Bashkortostan Discuss Possible Refinery Project
A delegation of Bolivian state officials and business representatives Bolivia held talks with the leadership of Bashkortostan's state-run Vostok consortium to construct an oil refinery in Bolivia, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 27 May. The director of the consortium's Institute for Petrochemicals Processing, Elshad Telyashev, told the daily that the refinery can be built within three years after a contract is signed, while at least one year is needed to sign a contract. Telyashev said the facility will be capable of processing more than 3 million tons of oil a year. The Bolivian side also expressed interest in processing gas into diesel fuel. The daily quoted an unidentified source in the the Vostok leadership, saying the project will cost upwards of $1.2 billion.

British Consul-General Visits Ufa
British Consul General to Yekaterinburg Clive Thompson is visiting Ufa to participate in a congress of Russian oil and gas manufacturers, Bashinform reported on 26 May. On 25 May, Thompson met with Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister and Economic Development and Industry Minister Nikolai Puchnin to discuss economic cooperation. The schedule includes also a meeting with the heads of the republican Construction, Architecture, and Transport Ministry.

Great Britain tops the list of Bashkortostan's economic partners. Bilateral trade totaled $600 million in 2004. Twelve joint Bashkir-British ventures operate in Bashkortostan.

Blagoveshchensk Raid Participant Left In Pretrial Detention
Ufa's Kirov Raion court on 26 May refused to release from pretrial detention Second Lieutenant Aidar Gylwanov, who is accused of exceeding his authority during the controversial security raids in Blagoveshchensk in December, "Moskovskii komsomolets v Ufe" reported the same day. In the wake of the operation, during which hundreds of Blagoveshchensk residents were beaten, republican prosecutors presented charges against eight employees of Blagoveshchensk security bodies. However, only Gylwanov, the youngest and most junior among those accused, was taken into custody to prevent him from "influencing the investigation." Gylwanov's lawyer, Wekil Kharisov, told the daily that "the decision to leave [Gylwanov] in custody is tactical." He said Gylwanov is serving as "a scapegoat." The investigation into the Blagoveshchensk raids has been extended to 29 June.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova