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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 4, 2004

4 February 2004
New Program Adopted On Development Of Gas And Petrochemical Industry
The Tatar government has passed a new five-year, $5.1 billion development plan for the petrochemical and gas industry, "Kommersant v Kazani" reported on 4 February. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said the program represents a "new era" in the development of the republic's economy. Shaimiev argued that if Tatarstan were to continue exporting oil in its current volumes, it would remain dependant on international oil prices. Tatarstan completed implementation last year of a similar program that saw a 30 percent increase in production and growth of trade turnover from $2.2 billion to $5.6 billion. Some 100 billion rubles ($3.5 billion) was invested under the program -- more than 66 billion rubles of it from Tatneft. The new program is aimed at raising oil production to 30 million tons a year and oil processing to 14 million tons a year by 2008. The volume of processed oil is expected to reach nearly four times its current level, while that in the chemical and petrochemical sector should more than double. Tatneftekhiminvest Holding General Director Rafinat Yarullin, who presented the program, predicted that Tatarstan's economy will reduce its dependence on global oil prices as a result of the program. Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov meanwhile said he opposes the program, arguing that it is missing key technical and economic elements.

Tatarstan's Interior Criticized For Strict Measures Toward Basketball Fans
Representatives of Moscow's TsSKA basketball club filed a protest against an incident involving its fans that took place in Kazan during a 31 January game between TsSKA and Kazan's UNIKS, "Izvestiya" reported on 4 February. Russian Basketball Federation President Sergei Chernov told "Izvestiya" that he "is deeply concerned by what happened before the game." Chernov was expected to travel to Kazan on 4 February to meet with Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov and UNIKS President Yevgenii Bogachev. The event requires a response, Chernov said, as similar incidents have never occurred during the Russian championships. The daily reported that on 31 January, many of the 400 TsSKA fans who came to Kazan from Moscow were prevented by police from seeing the game; the 40 who managed to enter the arena in which the game was to be played were said to have been strip-searched. A UNIKS representative told the daily that strict measures were taken to avoid events like that in Perm, where TsSKA fans recently initiated a scuffle with security forces during a game with the local Ural-Great and threw petards on the basketball pitch. Tatar Interior Ministry spokeswoman Irina Nizhelskaya suggested that the ministry had information that fans were planning on bringing pyrotechnics within them into the arena.

The Interior Ministry's press department issued a statement on 3 February saying that police took adequate measures to prevent a mass disturbance and hooliganism by both teams during the 31 January match between UNIKS and TsSKA, reported. The ministry confirmed that security checks and an examination of fans' belongings at the entrance to the arena resulted in 11 intoxicated people being barred from entering. The ministry said its security measures are normal for major cultural events and will continue in the future.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa Roundtable Focuses On Corruption
The European Commission's representation in Russia and Bashkortostan's government held a roundtable on the problems of regional anticorruption policies on 3 February, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. European Commission expert Uha Keranen said in his report that Russia has much in common concerning corruption with many other countries and the adoption of anticorruption laws was a good beginning. The other EU expert at the roundtable, Garry Van Boxmeyer, said that Russia needed to implement a policy of full transparency and accessibility of information on its activities. The roundtable adopted a resolution saying that Russian legislators should pass a law on basic anticorruption policies to enable further development of such acts by the regional legislatures. Russia was also urged to ratify the European Council's convention on criminal punishment for corruption, the UN's convention against transnational organized crime, and the UN's convention against corruption, which stipulates the principles of dividing property obtained by means of corrupt practices.

During the event, Bashkir officials led by chief of presidential staff Radii Khebirov, spoke about the general negative impact of corruption on Russia's economy and political situation, without reference to examples in Bashkortostan. Khebirov also said that Russian legislation "did not meet the anticorruption requirements" stipulated by the European Union, emphasizing that so far Bashkortstan has remained the only region in Russia that has adopted a law on corruption enforcement. After the event, Bashkir State Assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev said that the Bashkir parliament is ready to follow the recommendations of the EU experts.

EBRD Develops Loans Program For UralSib
The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has granted Bashkortostan's UralSib bank a $5.1 million loan within the bank's Trade Facilitation Program, Rosbalt reported on 3 February. UralSib will reportedly use the loan for financing an exports operation for the Bashkir petrochemical industry. Within the same program UralSib has already obtained $12 million for financing Bashkortostan's small and medium-sized companies.

Famous Surgeon Upbeat About Transition To Latin Script
Marat Aznabaev, a prominent Bashkir eye surgeon, supports the idea of a gradual transition from the Cyrillic Bashkir script to the Latin one, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 2 February. Aznabaev said that in pursuing the goal of proper expression of its ethnic language Bashkortostan should follow the example of other Turkic peoples, which already use Latin.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi