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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 16, 2004

16 January 2004
Reports On Tatneft's Plans For TUPRAS Threaten Company's Credit Rating
The international Standard & Poor's rating agency on 14 January placed Tatarstan's Tatneft on its CreditWatch list with a negative forecast, which means that Tatneft's credit rating may be lowered in 90 days, "Vechernyaya Kazan" wrote on 16 January. The move was reportedly due to recent reports about Tatneft's participation in the tender for state-owned shares in Turkish TUPRAS petrochemical holding (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15 January). Officially, Tatneft is not taking part in the tender, while there are reports saying that it actually is doing so through its German affiliate Efremov Kautschuk. The German venture is not on the official list of Tatneft's consolidated properties, which has drawn questions over the oil company's intentions and general practices.

Rustam Khisamov, deputy head of Tatneft's property administration, told the daily that Tatneft is in no way connected to Efremov Kautschuk, while Tatar presidential adviser on the petrochemical industry Renat Muslimov admitted in an interview that he "remembers Tatneft buying a share package" in that company.

According to previous reports, the Turkish Zorlu group announced its plans to join forces with Efremov Kautschuk in a joint bid in a tender for the state's controlling shares in TUPRAS, which unites a chain of the country's oil-processing companies, Reuters reported on 14 January. The two have already offered $1.3 billion for the 65.78 percent stake. The Turkish Anadolu Ortak Girisim Grubu company will also take part in the tender.

Tatarstan's Drug Situation Said Still 'Complicated'
Shamil Davletguildeev, head of state drugs control committee in Tatarstan, told a police conference on 15 January that in 2003 the republic's situation with drugs remained "complicated," due to the many traffickers attracted by the relative wealth of its residents and its location at the intersection of routes between the Urals, Siberia, and the European part of Russia, Intertat reported the same day. Davletguildeev said that more than 7,000 drug addicts are officially registered in Tatarstan, while the total amount of drug users is estimated at some 100,000.

Tatar PEN Center Presents Book On Ethnic Self-Identities, Federal Policies In Volga-Ural Area
The Tatar branch of international Pen Club uniting writers and journalists worldwide, presented a new book titled "The Tatar Way: Rights of the People and Political Correctness" in Kazan on 15 January, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The book consists of contributions by Tatar, Russian, and American writers and researchers devoted to the Tatar and Bashkir self-identity and situation with ethnic languages in the Volga-Ural region.

The book also provides an English summary, which says that it "raises the issues of interrelations of Russian Federation authorities and the Republic of Tatarstan, a constituent entity of the federation, which is so far not in favor of the Russian federalism."

Kazan Helicopter Plant Mentioned Among Russia's Strategic Industries
Kazan Helicopter Plant (KVZ) was included on the federal government's list of enterprises of strategic importance for Russia's defense and security, Tatarinform reported on 15 January. Being on the list reportedly means that the enterprises have some serious limitations in the possibility of privatization procedures. The list is said to include such industrial giants as Gazprom, Unified Energy Systems, and Russia's railroads.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Parliament Confirms Baidavletov As Prime Minister
The Bashkir State Assembly unanimously approved Rafael Baidavletov as the republic's new prime minister on 15 January, RIA-Novosti, RosBalt, and other Russian and Bashkir news agencies reported the same day. The cabinet submitted its resignation after the republic's presidential elections in December. President Murtaza Rakhimov, in proposing Baidavletov to head a new cabinet despite his advanced age, said the latter is "full of strength and energy, has great work experience, and is able to function sufficiently." President Rakhimov signed a decree the same day appointing Baidavletov prime minister. Baidavletov must now present a cabinet structure for approval.

State Assembly Rejects Candidates for Prosecutor's Post...
State Assembly deputies on 15 January rejected three candidates for the post of Bashkortostan's prosecutor-general -- all of them proposed by Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov -- RIA-Novosti, RosBalt, and other Russian and Bashkir news agencies reported the same day. Those nominees were Altai Krai Deputy Prosecutor-General Nikolai Popov, Bryansk Oblast Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Stupak, and Astrakhan Oblast Deputy Prosecutor-General Igor Korovin. Marat Kharisov, the head of the State Assembly Committee on Legislation, State Structure, and Judicial and Legal Issues, told RIA-Novosti that the candidates "are not familiar with the situation in Bashkortostan's law-enforcement sector; do not know enough about the republic's legal system, national culture, or the traditions of the republic's peoples; and are not experienced enough in prosecutorial supervision and the investigation of criminal cases." Kharisov added that it is a mistake to appoint individuals from outside Bashkortostan to such senior posts. He added that there are highly qualified people in Bashkortostan and a more fitting candidate for the post can be found.

Former Bashkortostan Prosecutor-General Florid Baikov retired in December in the wake of a scandal involving falsified ballots found in an Ufa printing house before the 7 December presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 16 and 17 December 2003). Ramil Isquzhin, who was Bashkortostan's deputy prosecutor, is currently the republic's acting prosecutor-general.

...As Prosecutor's Office Distances Itself From Candidates
The Russian deputy prosecutor-general in charge of the Volga Federal District, Sergei Gerasimov, said on 15 January that the Prosecutor-General's Office has not officially proposed any candidates for Bashkortostan's top prosecutorial post, RIA-Novosti, RBK, and other media reported the same day. "No official documents...were sent to the republic's State Assembly," Gerasimov said, adding that the debate over Popov, Stupak, and Korovin was held at the initiative of the Bashkir parliament. Gerasimov expressed surprise that the "ordinary procedure of preliminary consideration of the issue was introduced at the request of the republic's president to the republican legislature."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova