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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 13, 2005

13 June 2005
Tatarstan To Hold New Tender For Refinery Project
Tatarstan's Security Council on 10 June discussed a project for the construction of a second oil-refining plant in the republic, local news agencies reported. Tatneft will announce a new tender to design, finance, and construct a $3 billion facility with a processing capacity of 7 million tons per year.

The new project should replace a previously planned joint venture with South Korean LG International.

The Tatar-Korean Petrochemical Company (TKNK) was established in December 2003, while TKNK, Tatneft, and LG International representatives signed an agreement in September 2004 on the design, delivery of equipment, and construction of the refinery. Since then, however, TKNK's board has failed to approve a feasibility report and financing from the Korean Exim bank has failed to provide financing -- both conditions within the agreement on the refinery's construction.

"Kommersant-Volga-Ural" quoted an unidentified source within the Tatar government on 11 June as saying the republic's leadership decided to hold a new tender rather than wait for a new proposal from LG International. LG International is not excluded from participating in the new tender, the same source said. Tatneft will reportedly organize the financing under the new plan, rather than the Korean Exim bank.

Stanford University To Divest From Tatneft Over Work In Sudan
Stanford University President John Hennessey said the university's board of trustees has decided to request a divestiture from a number of companies that include Tatneft to protest their activities in Sudan, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 11 June, quoting a Reuters report. Hennessey asked investment managers to sell off shares in Tatneft, the Swiss-Swedish engineering concern ABB, and the Chinese PetroChina and Sinopec oil companies, saying they have close links to Sudanese authorities and to violations of human rights in that country. "It is obvious that in Darfur [a Sudanese province in which 180,000 people have died over the past two years and more than 2 million forced to flee their homes] genocide is taking place," Hennessey said, adding that Stanford investments in those companies represents an undesirable link that "directly contradicts principles of Stanford University."

Tatneft representatives countered that their company has no commercial activities on Sudanese territory, adding that negotiations with the Sudanese leadership on oil prospecting that began in 2000 provided nothing. Tatneft officials called Hennessey's statement a political provocation.

In June 2004, Sudanese Trade Minister Abdel Hamid Mussa Kasha visited the KamAZ vehicle manufacturer in Tatarstan. Sudan's plenipotentiary ambassador to Russia, Chol Deng Alak, visited Tatarstan in August 2004 and again in 2004.

Three Activists Sentenced For Hizb Un-Tahrir Links
A Kazan Yanga Savin Raion court has sentenced three people to more than four years in prison each for instigation to terrorism and recruitment for an illegal organization in connection with the Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organization that was banned in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 June. The men recruited in mosques, higher-education institutions, and at gatherings during Muslim holidays. Leaflets and extremist literature were seized from an apartment in Kazan where the defendants resided.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Fuel And Energy Companies Remain Under Control Of President's Son
The Bashkir Arbitration Court stopped on 10 June its consideration of a case on returning state ownership of controlling interests in the republic's five oil refineries -- Ufa Oil Refinery, Ufaorgsintez, Novoil, Ufaneftekhim and Bashkirnefteprodukt -- which belonged to Bashkirskii Kapital, a holding controlled by the son of President Murtaza Rakhimov, Ural Rakhimov, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The court decision is in reaction to a statement by the Bashkir Property Ministry about recalling an appeal made after signing an agreement between Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and Bashkirskii Kapital Board Chairman Rostem Ishalin on 8 June (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 June 2005). The representative of the Bashkir Prosecutor's Office, Gulnara Bikbulatova, who opposed the previous day's stoppage of the case by arguing that such an action would contradict state interests, didn't comment on the court verdict. The court said that both sides can only appeal the verdict to a higher court. "Kommersant-Daily" on 11 June reported that Bashkirskii Kapital also appealed in Bashkortostan's Arbitration Court the court decision to annul Bashkirskii Kapital's taking over of Bashneft and Bashkirenergo shares (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 16 May 2005). The daily commented that the Bashkir Property Ministry will likely refuse its claims during hearings on the appeal.

Ufa Airport Initiates Bankruptcy Of Bashkir Airlines
The state-run company International Airport Ufa (MAU) has initiated a bankruptcy procedure against Bashkir Airlines (BAL), RosBalt reported on 10 June. MAU appealed to the Bashkir Arbitration Court for the return of 2 million rubles ($70,500) owed by BAL. The hearing on the appeal is slated for 16 July. The news agency quoted an unidentified source in BAL saying the "bankruptcy procedure was promote the interests of one of the big federal airlines." Specifically, the source named the new airline Bashaero, an affiliate of one of the federal airlines registered in Bashkortostan's Ufa Raion. "Two million rubles is quite a small sum that the airline can easily repay," the source added. On the order of the Russian Property Ministry, BAL is to present by 30 June documents for transforming into a joint-stock company. Owned by the Bashkir government until 2002, BAL was then taken over by federal bodies. BAL owns one Tu-134 and six TU-154M jets.

Ufa Asks Moscow To Allocate Money For Developing Bashkir Culture
Bashkortostan's Culture and National Politics Ministry appealed to the Russian Regional Development Ministry to pass a federal program called Bashkirs of the Russian Federation, RosBalt reported on 10 June. Speaking at a conference on the 10th anniversary of the World Bashkirs Congress on the same day, Bashkir Culture and National Politics Minister Ildus Ileshev said Russia's ethnic peoples need state support at the federal level while globalization is gaining strength. Ileshev added that the federal ministry for Regional Development should initiate the development and adoption of federal programs for promoting the national-culture of Russia's various ethnic peoples, including one for Bashkirs. For its part, Bashkortostan plans to pass a similar republican program and a commission has been formed for this purpose. According to the 2002 census, 1.2 million Bashkirs live in Bashkortostan, where they total 29.8 percent of the population. Since the 1989 census, the number of Bashkirs in the republic grew by 7.9 percent, or 357,500 people, while the share of Russians was reduced from 39.3 percent to 36.3 percent (some 1.5 million), and that of Tatars fell from 28.4 percent to 24.1 percent (990,000). Sixty percent of Russia's Bashkirs live in Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova