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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 16, 2004

16 June 2004
Light Alcoholic Beverages Gain On Vodka
Some 2.8 million deciliters of alcoholic beverages have been sold in Tatarstan in the first five months of 2004, about 1 percent higher than over the same period last year, Intertat reported on 15 June, citing the head of the state alcohol inspectorate. In 2004, Tatarstan's residents reportedly consumed 12 percent more light alcoholic beverages than they did in 2003. Figures also indicate that with the gradual growth of incomes, the share of light alcoholic beverages on the market rose two percentage points to reach a 33 percent share, while the share of hard alcohol fell to 65 percent. Vodka remains the most popular alcoholic drink in the republic, with the locally produced brands of the state distillery Tatspirtprom holding a dominant 93 percent share of the market.

Finland's Ambassador, Tatar Community Leader Visit Kazan
Finland's Ambassador to Russia Rene Nuberg, chairman of Russia's Finnish diaspora Okan Daher, and the general director of the Metso Automatization Company Teuvo Laaksonen were scheduled to visit Kazan on 16 June for economic-cooperation talks with the local business elite, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Ambassador Nuberg was also expected to hold a meeting with President Mintimer Shaimiev.

Tatar Governmental Delegation Visits Tula For Industrial-Cooperation Talks
A Tatar governmental delegation led by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and including Housing and Construction Minister Marat Khosnullin, Deputy Economy Minister Ferit Tuqtarov, and representatives of KamaAZ, Tatneft, and Tatneft-neftekhim was in Tula Oblast on 16 June for meetings with Tula Governor Vasilii Starodubtsev and to tour the production facilities of the Efremov Synthetic Rubber Plant and Schekinazot and Khimvolokno chemical companies, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported, citing the governmental press service.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Hearing Of Falsified-Ballots Case Postponed
Ufa's Kirov court postponed on 15 June the trial of the case on the illegal printing of ballots for the Bashkir presidential elections until August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 5 December 2003), RIA-Novosti, RosBalt, and other news agencies reported. The only person accused in the case is the director of the printing house, Marat Weliev, who is accused of producing fake electoral documents. The reason given for the postponement was the vacation of Weliev's lawyer.

Meanwhile, Bashkir presidential-administration head Radii Khebirov labeled the fake-ballot story a "brilliant theater performance," RosBalt reported on 15 June. In a statement released by the presidential press service, Khebirov said that he "strongly doubts that a court will name those who ordered this crime, although they are undoubtedly somewhere nearby."

Hunger Strike At Entertainment Center Over
Ten employees of the Ogni Ufy entertainment complex ended their five-day hunger strike to protest the refusal of the Ufa administration to permit the complex to open (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 and 11 June 2004), RosBalt reported on 15 June. Complex Director Aleksandr Filippov told the news agency that the conflict ended after Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov interceded with the Ufa administration and permission was issued. Filippov said the complex will open in two or three weeks. He said the authorities' refusal to allow Ogni Ufy to open since December cost it 2 million euros. Experts believe that the project's troubles are linked to its investor, Mezhprombank, whose former president, Sergei Veremeenko, was Rakhimov's main rival in the December presidential elections.

Baltic Fleet Commander Promises President Rakhimov Unbiased Investigation
Baltic Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Vladimir Valuev informed President Rakhimov that investigation of the death of Bashkir officer Pavel Mardan on a fleet destroyer (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 May and 1 June 2004) is under the constant supervision of the Baltic Fleet military prosecutor and the Main Military Prosecutor's Office of the Russian armed forces. Valuev said accusations have been brought against Senior Lieutenant Yurii Konyshev, the son of Baltic naval-base commander Rear Admiral Aleksandr Konyshev, and said that "those guilty of the crime will be severely punished irrespectively of their names and degrees."

Bashkir Tax Ministry Gets New Head
Nikolai Lukichev, who headed the Russian Tax Ministry branch in Murmansk Oblast, was appointed acting head of the ministry's branch in Bashkortostan, RosBalt reported on 15 June. President Rakhimov at his recent meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov asked him to speed up the appointment a new branch head. Rakhimov also urged the appointment of someone living in Bashkortostan. Lukichev is the fourth head of the Bashkir branch in the past 15 months.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova