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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 18, 2005

18 July 2005
Kazan To Host Islamic Film Festival
Film producers from Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Turkey, Great Britain, Canada, Poland, Lithuania, Qatar, and CIS countries will take part in the first Muslim film festival, Golden Milbar, in Kazan on 5-11 September, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 June. The festival will feature fiction and documentary films, as well as animated films dedicated to Muslim culture and traditions. The festival will include awards for the best picture, best editor, best female and male actors, and a special prize instituted by President Mintimer Shaimiev. The event is ran by the Russia's Council of Muftis and the Islamic World TV and video company with the support of Tatarstan's presidential administration, Culture Ministry, and Kazan's city administration.

Planned Budget Expenses Exceed Anticipated Revenues
Tatarstan's budget for 2006 is being planned with expectations of world oil prices averaging $26 per barrel, a 20 percent increase in heating tariffs, and gradual growth of state employees' salaries, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 July, citing the 15 July statement by Finance Minister Radik Giyzatullin. Budget incomes are expected to increase by some 14 percent and total 42.8 billion rubles ($1.5 billion), while the planned expenses exceed this amount by 12.2 percent. Under federal legislation, regions are not allowed to have budgets with an estimated deficit higher than 10 percent and the republic's cabinet will have to revise its calculations. Speaking at a republican budget meeting, Giyzatullin said the growth in expenses is due to the increasing expenditures on state employees and social-security payments. He also suggested that to boost budget revenues the government could conduct a more thorough inspection of privately owned real estate to bring in more property tax.

Daily Claims Swiss Off-Shore Company Run By Tatar Government
Tatarstan's government has found a way around the federal ban on external loans by the regions by setting up the Edel Capital off-shore company, an affiliate of Svyazinvestneftekhim holding, "Vedomosti" reported on 15 July. The Swiss-registered off-shore venture is issuing some $250 million worth of Eurobonds for terms of seven to 10 years to invest in the joint project of Tatneft, the Tuben Kama petrochemical plant, and LG to build a modern oil-processing plant in Tuben Kama. The loan program received positive evaluations from the international Moody's and Fitch rating agencies. The daily concluded that if Tatarstan's experience fails to raise a red flag with federal authorities, it may be replicated by other regions.

Tatneft Expands Operations In Russia, Presents GAAP Report For 2003
In addition to its projects in Western Siberia and Arkhangelsk and Samara oblasts, the Tatneft oil company has begun prospecting in Orenburg Oblast, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 July. Prior to that, on 16 July the company submitted its annual report on accounting practices for 2003, based on U.S. GAAP standards, required for companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The report failed to reach the exchange's authorities in time due to the problems with Tatneft's assets used for participating in the tender for the state-owned stake in Turkey's Tupras petrochemical concern. During the talks for the deal, some of Tatneft's shareholders were surprised to learn about the existence of the Efremov-Kautchuk company in Germany.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Official Statistics Show Decreasing Violence, Growing Police Efficiency
More than 36,000 crimes were registered in Bashkortostan during the first half of 2005, Regnum reported on 15 July, citing the republican Interior Ministry. Official statistics for that period indicate a 10.6 percent reduction in murder, a general decrease in assault, and a twofold reduction in firearms offences. Meanwhile, the number of detected crimes related to illegal business practices and corruption has increased by more than 10 percent; violators have paid some $45 million in reimbursement payments to the state budget. There was also a 25 percent increase in the detection of drug-related crimes.

Police Make Arrests In Alleged Insurance Fraud
A criminal group of more than 30 Ufa residents including insurance companies' employees and traffic police officers have been detained for allegedly faking traffic accidents and making false insurance claims, the Volga-Urals edition of "Kommersant" reported on 15 July. The claims reportedly exceed $100,000. The police operation revealed that officials have been paid bribes to facilitate the fraud. Car insurance has only been obligatory in Bashkortostan for 18 months.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi