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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 12, 2004

12 May 2004
Federation Council Senator Promotes Russia-Wide Muslim Forum
In an interview with "Argumenty i fakty" on 12 May titled "Islamic Extremism Does Not Threaten Russia," Federation Council Senator Relif Safin said Russia has never been a site for religious conflicts. He said attempts to introduce radical versions of Islam, including Wahhabism, in Russia have failed. Safin cited a poll that found that just 17 percent of Russian citizens believe the potential for conflict among Orthodox believers and Muslims poses the greatest threat to the country. Safin stressed Islam's potential for strengthening the Russian state and called for wider cooperation both between Russia's Muslim community and the state and within the community itself. Safin said a Russia-wide forum for Muslims should be established to develop positions on issues that are particularly important to the Muslim community and to foster relations with other faiths and the authorities.

Turkish Firm To Reconstruct Kazan Airport
The Turkish construction company Monotech has been named the winning bidder for the reconstruction of Kazan's international airport, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 12 May. Tatar Roads and Transportation Minister Vladimir Shvetsov told the daily that four Turkish and two local companies submitted bids for the contract, which is estimated at 243 million rubles ($8.4 million). The work is to be completed by June 2005.

Monotech reconstructed the Tashkent, Istanbul, and Antalya airports and is currently working on two large-scale projects in Kazan.

Ak Bars Bank Initiates Shares Emission
Ak Bars Bank has announced that is emitting additional shares worth 6 billion rubles ($207 million), "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 May. The bank's capitalization will rise fourfold to 8 billion rubles as a result of the measure. Bank Observation Council Chairman Robert Musin said the distribution of shares among shareholders is to be completed by the end of June, at which time shares will be available for sale. Musin said the republic's leading companies Tatneft, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, Nizhnekamskshina, and Svyazinvestneftekhim will remain the bank's major shareholders and their stakes will not exceed 20 percent. He also added that the state-run stake in the bank should not exceed 15 percent. The Tatar government is currently represented in the bank capital by the Svyazinvestneftekhim holding that consolidated a 26 percent stake in March. The Moscow-based Zenit bank will reduce its stake in Ak Bars Bank, according to Musin.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Putin Authorizes Celebrations Of Bashkortostan's Entry To Russia
Meeting with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov in Novo-Ogarevo on 6 May, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that the 450th anniversary of Bashkortostan's entry into the Russian state "will be marked as a federation-wide event," the Bashkir presidential service reported on 11 May. The Russian leader reportedly instructed Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and head of presidential staff Dmitrii Medvedev to give a federal status to the anniversary slated for 2007. According to the press service, the anniversary has "historical importance, since Bashkortostan's entry to the Russian state halted the feudal conflicts and established wide commercial and cultural ties between Bashkirs and Russian settlers." A working group within the Russian government, the Russian presidential staff, and the Bashkir authorities have reportedly begun developing a program for the anniversary.

Government To Kickstart Economic Growth In Bashkortostan
According to President Rakhimov on 11 May, the Bashkir government by 2005 is obliged to create the conditions for industrial production growth, create a free competitive environment, and conduct an effective policy against monopolies, Rosbalt reported. According to the president, the future Bashkir laws will also boost the efficiency of state and municipal property management, stimulate investment and innovation activities, and optimize the network of those organizations, which benefit from state budget flows.

Bomb Targets Muslim Cleric In Oktyabrskii
A homemade bomb exploded outside the door of a Muslim cleric's office in the suburbs of Oktyabrskii, Bashkortostan on 10 May, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the next day. There were no casualties reported. Police have detained the suspect -- a local who reportedly has a personal conflict with the imam. The city prosecutor's office has charged the suspect with terrorism.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi