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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 6, 2005

6 September 2005
Kazan Hosts Muslim Film Festival
The first International Muslim Film Festival, known as "Altyn Monber," opened on 5 September in Kazan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. More than two dozen feature films, documentaries, and animated films will be screened at the festival, which was organized by Tatarstan's Culture Ministry. The Council of Muftis of Russia and Televideocompany Islamic World are founders of Altyn Monber, while the festival president is Council of Muftis of Russia Chairman Rawil Gainetdin. A jury headed by writer Rustam Ibragimbekov includes film critics, actors, and directors from Egypt, Syria, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. Twenty-seven films were chosen for screening from among 154 films from 21 countries presented. Ibragimbekov told a news conference on 5 September in Kazan that the festival aims to tell the truth about people living in predominantly Islamic countries. Films presented to the festival should be free of violence, cruelty, or horror and promote morality, humanism, and religious tolerance, he said. More than half of the festival's 4 million-ruble ($142,000) budget was provided by the government of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Moscow Contests Tatarstan's Effort To Privatize Postal Service
Representatives of the Federal Agency on Communications (Rossvyaz) announced on 5 September that the agency will appeal the court decision on the privatization of Tatarstan pochtasy, the republican state-run postal service, "Kommersant-Daily" and "Izvestiya" reported on 6 September. According to the privatization plan passed by the republican Land and Property Relations Ministry on 28 June, the assets of the state-run company will be transferred to a joint-stock company of the same name. Opponents say the move contradicts a 2003 concept on restructuring federal postal services whereby all Russian postal companies should become branches of the state-run Russian Post. Rossvyaz head Andrei Beskorovainii said on 5 September that the privatization of Tatarstan's postal operator would disrupt the unity of the national postal territory. The head of the Russian IT and Communications Ministry's legal department, Mikhail Yakushev, said the project violates the federal laws on postal service and on communications. Tatar IT and Communications Minister Ferit Fazyljanov called statements by Yakushev and Beskorovainii "unfounded."

Russian Television and Radio Company To Establish Advanced Branch In Kazan
Russia-wide State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK) Chairman Oleg Dobrodeev said on 5 September that his company will invest "very big money" in establishing one of its most up-to-date branches in Kazan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Meeting with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev in Kazan, Dobrodeev reportedly said the initial investments will have already been allocated for the current year and he is convinced the opening of the branch will take place within a year. Shaimiev thanked Dobrodeev for what he termed "brilliant" coverage of celebrations of the Kazan millennium by the state broadcaster.

Tatneft Sells Control Of NNPZ To TAIF
Tatneft has sold its majority stake in Tuben Kama Oil Refinery (NNPZ) to TAIF for 9 billion rubles, "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" reported on 3 September. The move marked the end of a three-year fight for control over the republic's only oil refinery. A week ago, TAIF bought Nizhnekamskneftekhim's entire stake in NNPZ for $139 million. Tatneft will construct its own oil refinery.

NNPZ has a capacity of 7 million tons of oil a year, and was launched in late 2002. Tatneft owned 63 percent of NNPZ, Nizhnekamskneftekhim controlled 25 percent, and 7.5 percent belonged to TAIF. After TAIF began its battle with Tatneft for control of NNPZ, President Shaimiev reportedly ordered Tatneft to construct another oil refinery in the republic and sell its stake in NNPZ to TAIF. TAIF shareholders include U.S. NKS Trading Inc. and Kazan companies owned by President Shaimiev's son, Radik, and the son of TAIF General Director Albert Shihabetdinov, Ruslan Shihabetdinov.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Alkhanov Admits Possibility Of Reducing Federal Forces In Chechnya
On 3 September, the last day of his visit to Bashkortostan, Chechen President Alu Alkhanov told reporters that the number of federal forces in his republic "in principle, could be reduced" and he is waiting for concrete results of the current search for "terrorist" groups, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. However, Alkhanov failed to specify when he expects the terrorist forces to be totally eliminated.

Court Freezes Communists In Bashkortostan
An unnamed Bashkortostan's court ruled to freeze the activities of the Communist Party in the republic, something the Communists attribute to local authorities' desire to monopolize the coming parliamentary elections, Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 September. Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin strongly opposed the ruling and demanded that it be reversed before the elections begin. He said the ruling will certainly be overturned by a higher court but will effectively block the party from the elections. Lukin also noted that this situation represents "proof of that judicial reform has not achieved its aim and is not preventing political intrigues."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi