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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 23, 2004

23 March 2004
Tatar President, Swedish Ambassador Meet in Kazan
President Mintimer Shaimiev met with Swedish Ambassador to Russia Henrik Sven Hirdman in Kazan on 22 March, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Earlier in the day the two inaugurated the official opening of Kazan's IKEA outlet and launched the beginning of Swedish culture days in Tatarstan.

Hirdman accepted Shaimiev's request for assistance from Swedish IT and communications companies in linking the computers of local schools to the Internet within the republican program "Electronic Tatarstan."

New Center For Information-Security Research And Studies Opened in Kazan
Tatarstan's Communications Ministry on 22 March opened a training and research center that will focus on information security in Volga region, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The center will be based at Kazan State Technical University, formerly known as the Kazan Aviation Institute. The new center will reportedly conduct training regarding computer-based information-security systems.

Hermitage Center To Open In Kazan By September
Tatarstan's Culture Ministry has announced that St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum plans to open its Hermitage Center in Kazan by September, Intertat reported on 22 March. The center is expected to exhibit works from the Hermitage collection and conduct various cultural and academic activities, according to

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tatar Civic Leader Wins Defamation Suit Against Newspaper
Ufa Tatar National Cultural Autonomy head Zahir Khekimov has won a defamation suit against the official Tatar-language "Qyzyl tang" daily, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 22 March. Khekimov sued the newspaper for a 15 August 2003 article which claimed that he gained money by illegal means, under the cover of Tatar national interests. The court obliged "Qyzyl tang" to apologize and pay Khekimov 5,000 rubles ($175) in compensation in damages. Khekimov, who claimed 1 million rubles compensation from the newspaper, said he is not satisfied with the sum and will appeal this part of the verdict.

Standard & Poor's Raises Bashkortostan's Credit Rating
The international credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has raised Bashkortostan's long-term credit rating on foreign currency obligations from B+ to BB-, forecast stable, "Expret-Ural" reported on 22 March. The weekly quoted Feliks Eigel, an analyst with the agency, as saying that the move came in response to the increase in the volume of reserves which exceed significantly the expenses of servicing and repaying the region's external debt. In 2003, the republic's debt was at a five-year low of 2.5 percent of the gross national income.

Privatization Of UralSib Completed
The Russian Antimonopoly Ministry has given permission for Aktiv-holding, a subsidiary of NIKoil, to purchase 75 percent of the UralSib bank, "Expert-Ural" reported on 22 March. The Moscow Arbitration Court confirmed the legality of the bank's recent privatization, which Bashkir tax bodies had contested. UralSib was established in 1993 as a state-run bank and is now among Russia's top-10 banks in terms of assets and has over 320 offices in 70 Russian cities. In the wake of privatization, NIKoil representative Fuad Akhundov was appointed as the bank's president. The paper reported that the Bashkir government gave favorable positions to NIKoil representatives.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova