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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 6, 2004

6 May 2004
Kazan Brewery Invests $80 Million In Tatar Farms
Within the last two years the Kazan-based Krasnii Vostok brewery has invested some 2.3 billion rubles ($80 million) in building new grain and cattle-breeding farms in Elke, Yeshel Uzen, and Yugari Oslan regions, Intertat reported. Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov is currently visiting the rural Kama region of Tatarstan. Minnikhanov told Intertat that the brewery's investments are raising the standard of living in formerly depressed areas by renovating roads and social infrastructure. Breaking the old tradition of Soviet farming, the investor reportedly prefers to import agricultural machinery because, despite its high price, the machines are more reliable.

Iran Interested In Sharing Tatarstan's Petrochemical Experience
Khamza Bagmanov, general director of the Tuben Kama oil-processing plant (NNPZ), met with a delegation from the Iranian Mostazafan financial and industrial group, led by Vice President Kiani Gholamali, the "Vremya i Dengi" daily reported on 6 May. The group reportedly expressed interest in sharing NNPZ technologies and consider the plant to be the "newest, most highly developed and efficient operating" in Russia.

May Day Holiday Soured By Alcohol Poisoning
One person died, five were taken to intensive-care units, and 19 more hospitalized with alcohol poisoning during the four-day-long celebrations of 1 May in Kazan, Efir TV reported on 5 May. Most of the poisonings occurred due to illegally produced alcohol. Kazan hospitals treat more than 1,000 cases of alcohol poisoning every year.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Religious Leaders Concerned About Prostitution
Religious leaders in Bashkortostan, including Archbishop Nikon of Ufa and Sterletamaq, Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Chairman Telget Tajetdin, and Bashkortostan's Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Chairman Nurmokhemmet Nigmetullin, sent an open letter to President Murtaza Rakhimov to demand that he personally take measures to prevent the spread of prostitution, RosBalt reported on 5 May. They said that prostitution in Ufa in the past three years had reached "unprecedented scope," "with the complete connivance of law-enforcement bodies."

They added that the situation is worse than it has ever been, and blamed the authorities turning a blind eye to advertisements for prostitutes and bordellos. They said that the police have not closed a single house of prostitution in the last year, while ads from more than 300 such houses are printed every week with a total print run of 1 million copies. The leaders reminded the president that "prostitution is still considered a crime" and called on him to remind the police and the Media Ministry that prostitution and its advertisement are impermissible.

Few Changes On Bashneft Board...
Representatives of Bashkortostan have taken all nine seats on the Bashneft board, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 6 May. The new board was elected on 5 May at the oil company's general shareholders' meeting. The only new person on the board is the deputy head of the Bashkir government's fuel-and-energy-complex department, Vladimir Kozin, who replaced Uraltransnefteprodukt General Director Kamil Ekhmedullin. The Bashkir government is also represented by Deputy Prime Minister Boris Kolbin, Property Minister Zofer Ebdrekhimov, and Economic Development Minister Valentin Vlasov. The Institute of Regional Economy and Law owns 64 percent of Bashneft, while the Bashkir Property Ministry owns 1.34 percent of its shares. Bashneft has a total of 204.7 million rubles ($7 million) in capital.

As a result of an early-February management reform in Bashkortostan's fuel-and-energy sector, the management of Bashneft, which previously belonged to Bashneftekhim and then to Bashkirskii Kapital, was passed to the Institute of Regional Economy and Law, which previously provided legal services to companies in the sector. The institute also received management of 57 percent of Bashkirnefteprodukt, 85 percent of the Novo-Ufimskii Oil Refinery, 61 percent of Ufaneftekhim, and 72 percent of Ufaorgsintez. Viktor Gantsev, who was appointed the institute's executive director, previously served as Bashneftekhim general director and Bashkirskii Kapital general director.

The "Kommersant-Daily" quoted unidentified oil-company sources as commenting that the intent of the reform was to distance Bashneft and Bashkir oil refineries from Bashkirskii Kapital, which was established to privatize the sector companies and is now the subject of an investigation into the legality of the privatization process (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 July, 26 November, 5 December 2003, and 23 February 2004). The daily also quoted a source close to the Bashkir government as saying preparations for changing the ownership of fuel-and-energy-sector companies is behind the reshuffle. Analysts name Rosneft and Surgutneftegaz as the most likely buyers of Bashkir oil assets, the daily reported.

...As Official Denies Ufa Agrees To Get Rid Of Oil Sector Companies
Meanwhile, RosBalt quoted on 5 May an unidentified source in the Bashkir presidential administration as denying rumors about political agreements between Bashkortostan and Moscow, according to which control over Bashkir oil refineries will be passed to outside owners in exchange for Moscow's support for President Rakhimov in the second round of the December Bashkir presidential elections. The source said, "It is time to stop the hysteria and speculation around rumors on possible redistribution of stakes in the Bashkir companies of the oil sector." "We are not going to bargain with anybody," the source said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova