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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 23, 2005

23 September 2005
State Duma Backs Tatarstan-Initiated Amendments To Self-Government Law
The Russian State Duma has considered amendments proposed by the Tatar State Council to the federal law on general principles of organization of local self-government in Russia, Tatar-inform reported on 22 September. Under the proposed amendments, regions would be given the right to delegate their powers from the regional to municipal levels and vice versa. The document would postpone the reform of local self-government from January 2006 until January 2009. Those entities that are ready for reform, however, can launch it as of 1 January 2006.

Weekly: Staying In Russia Unprofitable For Tatarstan
"Zvezda povolzhya" Editor in Chief Reshid Ekhmetov wrote in an editorial published on 22 September that rising global oil prices make it fiscally irresponsible for Tatarstan to remain in the Russian Federation. Ekhmetov calculated that Tatarstan pays Russia $8 billion of the $12 billion it earns each year from oil production, describing the situation as "neocolonialism." Ekhmetov noted that the entire five-year federal program on preparations for the Kazan millennium cost $1 billion, and he speculated that if Tatarstan were to reduce its annual payouts to Russia by that amount every year it could pump that money into its infrastructure and new building and hold such celebrations every year. Ekhmetov predicted that Moscow will seek to take over Tatneft to deprive the republic of an economic basis for sovereignty.

Moscow Official Confirms Plans To Reconstruct Moscow Street In Kazan
The deputy head of the Moscow Planning Policy Department, Konstantin Korolevskii, has confirmed that Moscow will reconstruct Kazan's Moscow Street, RosBalt reported on 22 September, citing the department's press service. Korolevskii said the reconstruction project will be developed by November, adding that Moscow authorities "are obliged to make it one of the most beautiful streets of Tatarstan's capital." Korolevskii said 200,000 square meters of housing will be erected in connection with the project.

Finance Ministry To Pay For Illegal Criminal Persecution
The Kazan Yanga-Savin Raion Court on 21 September satisfied an appeal by Kazan resident Maksim Shakurov against the Russian Finance Ministry and ordered the Federal Treasury Board in Tatarstan to pay Shakurov 35,000 rubles ($1,233) in compensation for illegal criminal persecution, "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" reported on 23 September. Tatarstan's counternarcotics service filed a criminal case against Shakurov in 2003 and placed him on an international wanted list on allegations that he had trafficked 9 kilograms of heroin from Uzbekistan to Tatarstan. On 12 May 2005, the criminal case was halted due to the "absence of a crime." While being persecuted, Shakurov left his family in Kazan and hid in Uzbekistan. With the help of the Kazan Human Rights Center, he sued the Russian Finance Ministry in August for 100,000 rubles in compensation. Representatives of the treasury argued at the trial that the lawsuit and the requested compensation were groundless as there were no medical documents to confirm that Shakurov had suffered.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Prosecutor: No Chance To Reverse Petrochemical Complex Privatization Deals
Bashkortostan's chief prosecutor, Aleksandr Konovalov, told reporters on 22 September that he believes there is no legal chance to reverse the deals that privatized the state-owned shares in the republic's petrochemical industries, Russian media reported the same day.

Starting in 1993, the shares were managed by Bashneftekhim Holding. In 1999, Bashkortostan's Ministry of State Property gave the shares to Bashkirskaya Toplivnaya Kompaniya (BTK). In 2002, President Murtaza Rakhimov authorized the sell-off of the BTK shares to the Bashkirskii Kapital company, which is controlled by his son, Ural.

The announcement by Konovalov reportedly brought relief to the Sistema group of companies, which in August 2005 purchased from Bashkirskii Kapital a 19.9 percent share of Bashneft and four local oil refineries; 18.6 percent of shares in Bashnefteprodukt; and a 10.08 percent package in Bashkirenergo for $502 million.

According to unnamed analysts cited by "Vedomosti" on 23 September, the prosecutor's decision was influenced by the republican government, which supported the sell-off.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi