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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 19, 2004

19 March 2004
Prosecutors Audit TAIF As Questions Arise Over Source Of Accusations
Tatarstan prosecutors launched an inspection of the Tatar-American Investments and Finance (TAIF) company on 24 February at the behest of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office following an inquiry by Deputy State Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 18 March. In his inquiry, Ilyukhin referred to an appeal he received in early February from an individual who introduced himself as Nizhnekamskneftekhim petrochemicals company employee Nail Weliev. The employee reportedly expressed concern about alleged "numerous incidences of legal violations during the establishment of TAIF made with the connivance of the republic's leadership."

The daily cited the Tatar Prosecutor-General's Office as saying the TAIF inspection will be finished by April.

Meanwhile, Nizhnekamskneftekhim Deputy General Director Nail Weliev told a news conference on 18 March that he had nothing to do with any such appeal, and that he informed Deputy Ilyukhin, the Russian prime minister, and federal media outlets of that fact in mid-February, Tatmedia news agency reported. Weliev added that there is no other "Nail Weliev" at the company. TAIF spokesman Dmitrii Nemanov said at the same press conference that the incident damaged TAIF's reputation and that the company is conducting its own investigation to determine who initiated the scandal. The news agency quoted observers saying the incidents might be linked to the Tuben Kama Oil Refinery's ELOU-AVT-7 plant.

In the purported appeal to Ilyukhin, the author also reported that TAIF is negotiating with a foreign company to sell its shares. Radik Shaimiev, who is the son of President Mintimer Shaimiev as well as being general director of the Nira-Eksport company that holds 10 percent of TAIF and an adviser to TAIF's general director, recently said TAIF shareholders are not going to introduce any changes to the list of company owners. Established in 1975, TAIF controls 7 percent of Tatneft, 10 percent of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, 7.5 percent of Tuben Kama Oil Refinery, and has a majority stake in Kazanorgsintez. TAIF unites more than 30 companies from the construction, refining, services, financial, and petrochemical sectors.

Sanitary Engineering Company Head Murdered
The general director of a company that installs sanitary and hygiene technology, Tatsantekhmontazh, was fatally shot in his Kazan office on the morning of 18 March, Tatar and Russian media reported. The killer or killers apparently ambushed Boris Vaiman in a hallway and fled. Vaiman's predecessor in the senior Tatsantekhmontazh management post was the victim of a fatal shooting in February 2001.

Tatsantekhmontazh is a major supplier in the presidential urban-renewal program and was an effective monopoly in the sector until 2001. "Kommersant" suggested on 19 March that Tatsantekhmontazh has been under the control of a Kazan-based criminal group since the mid-1990s; some have linked the 2001 shooting to purported attempts by Vaiman's predecessor to distance the company from criminal elements.

Grigorii Arutyunov, the general director of Kazan water and sewage company Vodokanal, was shot and killed while leaving his apartment in early February (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 February 2004). Arutyunov's deputies are under investigation on suspicion of involvement in the possible misappropriation of money allocated for the purchase of water pipes.

Weekly Ascribes Communists' Electoral Success To Presidential Adviser
The "Zvezda povolzhya" weekly on 18 March accused an adviser to President Shaimiev on political issues, Rafael Khekimov, of promoting the Russian Regions party, which garnered 3.58 percent of the parliamentary vote but will not be represented in the parliament. The publication speculated that Khekimov, having persuaded Shaimiev on the eve of the elections to call on people to vote for Russian Regions, thus damaged the Tatar president's authority. The weekly said administrative levers were used to promote Russian Regions, as the heads of rural raion administrations were ordered to secure 15 percent support for the party. The publication also claimed that two of three votes in favor of the Motherland bloc, which it believes collected 7 percent, were counted as votes for Russian Regions. As a result of Khekimov's misguided strategy, the paper claimed, a faction of the Communist Party appeared in the new Tatar parliament and it will be much more difficult for its speaker to cope with the new legislature than with its predecessor. "Zvezda povolzhya" claimed it is the third "ruinous political project" in which Khekimov was involved for Shaimiev.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Official Critical Of Moscow's Plans To Abolish Ethnic Republics
Khalyaf Ishmoratov, deputy prime minister and minister of culture and ethnic policies, told a conference devoted to the 85th anniversary of the recognition of the Republic of Bashkortostan by Soviet authorities in Ufa on 18 March that "the Russian Federation is not just a federation of territories, it is a federation of various ethnic groups," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. He added, "In our opinion, the abolishment of ethnic republics also known as 'gubernization,' currently discussed by some Russian politicians will lead to destabilization in Russia and the collapse of the entire country. Only federalism is possible for our future."

Metro Cash&Carry Comes To Ufa
The German wholesaler Metro Cash&Carry company will invest 20 million euros ($25 million) in a multifunction shopping complex in Ufa, the company's representatives announced during a meeting with Mayor Pavel Kachkaev on 18 March, RosBalt reported. The shopping center reportedly will not serve individuals, offering its goods only to companies. Metro is currently considering four possible locations for construction, while it plans to open eight such wholesale stores in cities across Russia by the end of the year.

Small Bashkir Cities To Compete For Most Livable Cities In Russia
Salavat, Bashkortostan's third major city, was declared the most livable city in the republic with a population over 60,000 in a special contest held by the republican housing services.

Surprisingly enough, Agidel, previously planned as home for Bashkir nuclear-power plant employees and currently suffering the highest unemployment in the republic, was declared the most livable among small cities in Bashkortostan.

The winning cities will be presented to the Russian State Committee of Construction and Housing to be entered in a national contest for the most livable city.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi