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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 3, 2004

3 March 2004
Shaimiev Says Fradkov's Appointment Good For Reforms...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev on 2 March told Interfax that the appointment of Mikhail Fradkov as prime minister will allow for greater reforms in the country. This is "an experienced professional who knows the system of foreign economic cooperation and the tax sector quite well," Shaimiev said, adding that an awareness of the mechanisms of market economies in developed countries is especially important for the head of the government when further liberalization of the economy is required. Shaimiev expressed confidence that Fradkov's experience and knowledge will be useful for Russia to become competitive in world markets. Shaimiev added that he had been in contact with Fradkov while he was working at foreign economic bodies and that the prime minister-designate always found solutions "at a high professional level." Shaimiev also said, "what is important is the fact that Mikhail Fradkov is a person more free from new oligarchs and other links that could hinder the work of the new government."

...And Meets With French Ambassador
Tatar President Shaimiev and French Ambassador to Russia Jean Kade agreed at a 1 March meeting in Kazan to step up Tatar-French relations, Tatar-inform and reported. The two officials noted that bilateral trade turnover is unsatisfactory. Tatarstan became the first Russian region Kade visited following his appointment as ambassador in November. Kade said Tatarstan plays one of the most important roles in Russia and that France is highly interested in the upcoming 200th anniversary of Kazan State University and the millennium of the city of Kazan. "We are ready to support this event," he added. He called for true cooperation in developing cultural, linguistic, economic, and technological spheres. Both men agreed that a presentation of Tatarstan's economic potential to the French Club will be made in Moscow and a similar presentation to club members will be held in Tatarstan in the summer. The French Club is an association of French entrepreneurs in Moscow uniting over 120 businessmen.

Five-Star Hotel Built In Kazan
The first five-star hotel, Mirazh, opened in Kazan on 2 March, and RosBalt reported the same day. The general-director of the hotel and the owner of Nira-eksport, Radik Shaimiev, the son of the Tatar president, said at a press conference the same day that the construction cost 982 million rubles ($34.4 million) and that credits from the Tatarstan-based TAIF company and Western banks were used to complete the project. Italian architect Marco Piva, the architect of the Venetian Laguna Palace Hotel and of a palace for Monaco's Prince Albert, designed the building and its interiors. A standard room in the hotel costs $170 per night, while the price of the presidential room is $920 per night. The Mirazh Hotel belongs to the Summit international network.

Kazan Among Russia's 'Most Comfortable' Cities
Kazan was rated 185th on a list of the world's 215 "most comfortable" cities published by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, NTA-Privolzhe reported on 2 March. Among Russian cities, it follows St. Petersburg (183rd) and Novosibirsk (184th), while Moscow is in 190th place. The least suitable city for living is Baghdad, while the most comfortable in the world according to the list is Zurich.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Airlines Under Investigation
The Bashkir Interior Ministry has charged the Bashkir Airlines Company (BAL) with tax evasion and concealing currency assets after the company's inspection by the Tax Service, Rosbalt reported on 2 February. The alleged violations are said to date back to 2001-2002 when BAL was owned by Bashkortostan's government. In 2002, the company was reclaimed by the federal government and was included on a list of state properties to be privatized in 2004. The Ufa Transport Prosecutor's Office is already investigating the case of BAL's General Director Nikolai Odegov, who was charged with state property embezzlement and abuse of power. BAL has a fleet of nine aircraft.

Pro-Government Civic Groups Support Putin...
Public Conference, an organization uniting pro-government civic organizations under the Bashkir president, issued a statement urging the people of Bashkortostan on 2 March to support President Vladimir Putin in his re-election bid, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. The conference mentioned in its statement that "for the first time in recent years Russia has a political situation where people support the president and approve of the implemented social and economic policies and express solidarity with his aspiration towards strict legality in all spheres of social life."

...As Do The Trade Unions
Amirkhan Samirkhanov, chairman of the Bashkir Trade Unions Federation, told reporters on 2 March that the estimated 1.2 million members of his organization will support the incumbent Putin "because the beginning positive processes in [Russia's] socio-economic sphere to a large extent are connected" with the president's activities aimed at withdrawing the country from crisis.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi