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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 30, 2005

30 September 2005
Tatarstan Revisits The Idea Of Cooperation With LG
Tatarstan's First Deputy Prime Minister Rawyl Moratov told reporters on 29 September that the republican government is interested in attracting South Korea's LG International as a strategic partner for the construction of the oil refinery in Tuben Kama, "Kommersant" wrote the next day. This statement in fact has reversed the previously declared decision of the Tatar cabinet to halt cooperation with the company. In 2003, LG and the Tatar government had established a Tatar-Korean petrochemical company and looked into obtaining a $1.5 billion loan for the $3 billion project. However, despite expectations, LG and the government failed to sign an agreement and Korea's Export-Import Bank abstained from granting the loan. Following his meeting with Korean Ambassador to Russia Kim Je Sob on 29 September, Muratov said that Tatarstan was interested in cooperation with LG due to the "complexity and ambitiousness of the project," which is expected to cost $6-7 billion.

Kazan Hosts Duma Hearings On Sports Policies
Tatarstan's parliament hosted a meeting of the Russian State Duma's committee on sports and youth affairs on 29 September, where they discussed the implementation of a single state policy on the promotion of sports, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The committee, chaired by Duma Deputy and retired hockey star Vladislav Tretyak, reportedly came to the conclusion that besides the federal laws on sports, legislators will also have to amend financial, tax, and administrative laws to facilitate the effective spread of a healthy lifestyle among Russian citizens.

Turkish Businessman Attacks Kazan TV Crew
The prosecutor's office of the Sovietskii district of Kazan is investigating the case of a Turkish citizen, Ekermen Erhan Nuri, who allegedly attacked a reporter and cameraman from the GTRK Rossiya state TV and radio company on 29 September, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Nuri is the head of the Ural-Insaat construction company. Following his refusal to be interviewed, Nuri allegedly broke a video camera causing some $3,000 in material damages and beat members of the TV crew. The journalists were accompanying an intergovernmental commission looking into the "black" labor market.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Interior Minister Employee Sentenced In Blagoveshchensk Case
Bashkortostan's prosecutor-general, Aleksandr Konovalov, told reporters on 29 September that the Blagoveshchensk city court issued the same day the first verdict related to the December Blagoveshchensk police raid (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004 and 3, 6, 7, 10-14, and 17-21 January 2005), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

Blagoveshchensk Interior Directorate inquirer Albert Soltanov was convicted of abuse of power during the operation and was given a suspended sentence of three years conditional imprisonment. Soltanov is also prohibited from serving in law enforcement agencies for five years. Konovalov said he will have to evaluate the verdict before deciding if he is satisfied with it.

Criminal cases against Soltanov and district policeman Vasilii Zhukov, who are also accused of abuse of power, are separate from the major case against eight Interior Ministry officials involved in the Blagoveshchensk raid, which is slated for 12 October.

Prosecutor's Office Fighting Violations By Its Own Staff
Republican Prosecutor-General Konovalov said at a Prosecutor Office's board meeting on 29 September that prosecutors from the Oktyabr and Ebjelil raions were forced to resign after it was revealed that they had opposed investigations into killings in their raions, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

Konovalov said they are considering filing criminal cases against them. He said while interior employees are "persecuted for refusal to file criminal investigations in thefts of potatoes, some prosecutors let themselves 'forget' about criminal corpses," adding that they will be "severely punished."

Six prosecutors have been fired for violations since Konovalov was appointed in Bashkortostan.

Gas Prices At LUKoil Stations Increasing
LUKoil-Uralnefteprodukt has increased gas prices at its filling stations in Bashkortostan in violation of the recent statement by LUKoil's Vagit Alekperov that the company "will fix its retail gas and diesel fuel prices at all filling stations across Russia as of 19 September till the end of 2005," "Moskovskii komsomolets v Ufe" reported on 29 September.

Prices of different kinds of gas grew from 13-17 rubles ($0.45-$0.6) to 13.9-17.45 rubles. Russia's six leading oil companies announced on 19 September that they will freeze retail prices of gas till the end of the year. Two more of Bashkortostan's gas traders, Bashkirnefteprodukt and Bashneft, have also raised prices at their gas stations since 19 September.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova