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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 31, 2004

31 March 2004
Tatar Delegation Visits Milan
A Tatar government delegation headed by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov participated in the "Days of Tatarstan's Economy" in Milan on 29 March, the government press service reported on 30 March. Minnikhanov, Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Relations Minister Khefiz Salikhov, and Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov held a press conference, while the heads of Tatneft, Kazanorgsintez, KamAZ, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, and YelAZ participated in roundtables on developments in the republic's banking sector and in light industry and machine building, food production, and petrochemical sector.

Ex-Duma Deputy To Remain In Custody
The Tatar Supreme Court's Board of Appeals on 30 March rejected an appeal by lawyers of former State Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin to released him from detention,, RosBalt, and other news agencies reported the same day. Shashurin was detained on 12 March in Moscow and delivered to Kazan, where has been held in accordance with a verdict by a court in Kazan's Wakhitov Raion (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 16 March 2004). Shashurin is accused of fraud resulting in damages of more than 3 million rubles ($105,000). Another criminal case opened against him is based on charges he defamed Tatarstan's Interior Minister Esget Seferov, Interior Minister First Deputy Renat Timerjanov, and Chief Investigation Directorate Head Andrei Vazanov, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 31 March. Shashurin has repeatedly stated that Minister Seferov organized contract killings.

Senior KamAZ Official Fired For Alleged Corruption
Igor Smirnov, a deputy chief designer working in the KamAZ product-development department, was fired on 2 March for alleged corruption, "Vedomosti" reported on 30 March, citing the KamAZ press service. Smirnov reportedly signed a contract with a company allegedly created by his son that could result in damages of 379,000 rubles ($13,300) to the company. The KamAZ security service uncovered the alleged infraction in February. The daily quoted an unidentified top manager of KamAZ as commenting that the announcement can be explained by "KamAZ's wish to break its image as a company linked to large-scale embezzlement." The manager recalled that Sergei Kogogin, immediately after being appointed KamAZ general director in 2002, initiated the establishment of an interdepartmental commission to combat embezzlement and other economic crimes at KamAZ.

The KamAZ group, comprising 17 companies, produced 24,066 trucks and 40,016 cars in 2003. In 2002, the group's net profit totaled 1.8 billion rubles, while the KamAZ plant posted a profit of 78 million rubles. The Russian Property Committee holds a 34 percent stake in KamAZ, Vneshtorgbank 19.4 percent, the Tatar Land and Property Relations Ministry 11.6 percent, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 6.8 percent.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Gets A New Chief Prosecutor
Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov appointed Mikhail Zelepukin acting chief prosecutor of Bashkortostan Republic on 30 March, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Zelepukin, 40, former chief prosecutor of Balakovo in Saratov Oblast, had worked as Bashkortostan's deputy prosecutor from 18 February and now is to replace Ramil Iskujin, who will return to the post of deputy prosecutor.

Interior Minister Admits Special Attitude To Ethnic Chechens...
Bashkir Interior Minister Refeil Divaev told a news conference on 30 March that Bashkortostan's police pay special attention to Chechens working in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. As part of the program of antiterrorist measures, Bashkir authorities are reportedly look into possible ties between businessmen from North Caucasus and militant groups.

According to Divaev's information, North Caucasian businessmen own 109 companies in Bashkortostan, while 26 of these companies are owned by ethnic Chechens. He also mentioned that on 18 March his ministry detained a group of smugglers selling guns from Chechnya to Bashkortostan. The group reportedly consisted of three men from Chechnya and one from the Bashkir capital Ufa.

...And Complains Of Excessive Number Of Illegal Immigrants
Divaev also said that at least one in 10 foreign workers working in Bashkortostan are doing so illegally, RosBalt reported the same day. In 2003, 110,500 foreigners received administrative punishment for working without proper registration in Bashkortostan, 164 were deported, and 21 Bashkir businessmen were fined for hiring illegal immigrants.

Bashkir police reportedly detain from 15 to 25 illegal migrants every day, while the number of officially registered foreign workers in Bashkortostan is reported at only 1,500.

Russian Justice Ministry Still Has 100 Bashkir Laws On Its Blacklist
Rishat Kilmyakov, head of the Russian Justice Ministry's Bashkir branch, said on 30 March that 100 of the republic's current laws contradict the federal constitution or other laws, RosBalt reported the same day. Kilmyakov told the security conference in federal inspector Kolmokhemmetov's office that most of the controversial documents are 56 Bashkir cabinet decrees, while 19 other republican laws, nine acts passed by the Legislative Assembly, six presidential decrees, and six republican ministerial orders need to be adjusted to federal legislation. Most of the legal disputes between Ufa and Moscow reportedly arose from the attempts of the republican government to go beyond its powers by infringing on the jurisdictions of federal government and local self-governments. As many as 400 Bashkir laws have already been adjusted to comply with federal legislation since 2000.

Bashkortostan Seeks UNIDO Assistance In Industrial Development
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with representatives of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Ufa on 20 March to discuss ways of developing the innovations-based industry sector and modernizing existing industrial facilities in Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported the same day.

During Rakhimov's meeting with UNIDO Russia head Mikhail Rychev and UNIDO's integrated program coordinator in Bashkortostan, Yurii Akhvlediani, both sides acknowledged the need to prepare the republic for new economic realities should Russia join the World Trade Organization.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi