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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 8, 2004

8 July 2004
Tatar-Korean Company To Produce Ethylene
Tatneftekhiminvest-holding General Director Rafinat Yarullin said on 7 July in Kazan that the Tatar government has decided on the profile of Tatar-Korean Petrochemical Company (TKNK), which is intended to develop petrochemical production, but not gasoline or oil products, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 8 July. Yarullin said the decision due to the lack of petrochemical products, including ethylene and polyethylene, on the Russian market. He added that the complex will produce up to 600,000 tons of ethylene and Tatarstan can now cover half of the domestic ethylene and benzene market.

The daily cited analysts have called the decision controversial as all Russian oil companies are seeking to increase and deepen oil refining domestically to profit on gasoline production. The newspaper speculated that the decision to not produce gasoline must have been come in the interest of Tatar-American Investments and Finances (TAIF), the leadership of which likely agreed its gasoline project with President Mintimer Shaimiev.

The joint TKNK venture was established in December by the Tatar government, Tatneft, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, and Tatneftekhiminvest-holding to set up through the Tuben Kama Oil Refinery (NNPZ) a $2.6 billion oil-refining complex. At the same time, however, TAIF, an NNPZ shareholder controlled by President Shaimiev's son Radik, announced its plan to construct a gasoline plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim.

Prosecutors To Appeal Mild Sentences For Extortionists
Kazan's Moscow Raion Court convicted on 6 July three members of the "Teapots" organized criminal group of extortion and intent to cause bodily harm, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 8 July. One of them was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison while the other two were each given 3 1/2 years of probation. The prosecutor's office, which had demanded prison sentences of between eight and 14 years, said it will appeal the verdict in the Tatar Supreme Court. The men have been extorting money for several years from taxi drivers, forcing them to pay 150 rubles ($5) every month for protection. Drivers who didn't pay were beaten and their vehicles were destroyed. Several of them appealed in January 2003 to the Tatar Interior Ministry's antiorganized crime department.

Eight Tatar Companies Among Russia's Top 300
Tatneft leads eight Tatar companies that were included in the list of Russia's 300 leading companies of 2003, published by RBK-Rating, Russian news agencies reported on 7 July. Tatneft is 11th on the list with income of 116.6 billion rubles, 7.3 percent up from 2002. KamAZ is 36th with income of 30.7 billion rubles, 26 percent up from 2002, while Nizhnekamskneftekhim and its income of 24.9 billion rubles is 44th. In the first hundred are also Tatenergo at 64th with income of 17.2 billion rubles, and Nizhnekamskshina, which is 100th with income of 10.2 billion rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Airlines Pilots Begin Strike
Pilots of Bashkir Airlines announced a strike as of 8 July, pilots trade-union Deputy Chairman Sergei Yeshtokin told RosBalt on 7 July. The decision was adopted following the airline administration's refusal to sign a collective agreement proposed by the trade union. Agreement has not been reached on more than 40 paragraphs of the document that have been under discussion for seven months. Specifically, pilots demand that all internal documents by the administration be agreed with them, wages be categorized following an increase of the minimum wage, pilots who retire be paid one year's salary, and that families of pilots who die in their workplace be paid 10 years' salary. Bashkir Airlines is currently being prepared for privatization. The number of pilots employed by the airline has been halved over the past two years to 450. The airline possesses 12 passenger jets, including nine Tu-154Ms and three Tu-134s. Relatives Of Air-Crash Victims Sue U.S. Companies Relatives of six victims of the July 2002 midair collision of a DHL cargo jet and a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet over Lake Constance, Germany, appealed to a U.S. court in Florida against five U.S. companies that produce electronic air-traffic-control equipment, the "Chicago Tribune" reported on 4 July. The plaintiffs claim that some responsibility for the accident lies with the U.S.-produced equipment used by the air-traffic-control firm that was monitoring the airspace at the time of the crash. The five U.S. companies are also accused of providing insufficient instruction to operators of the equipment. Bill Rivis, representative of Honeywell International, one of the five companies being sued, told RIA-Novosti on 7 July that his company still has not studied the lawsuit and thus cannot yet comment. Rivis noted that "as data provided by investigation of the crash shows, traffic collision alarm systems (TCAS) were functioning in accordance with criteria accepted by the Federal Management of Civil Aviation of the United States."

16,000 Residents Of Bashkortostan Refuse To Change Passports
More than 3.3 million residents of Bashkortostan received new Russian passports as part of the passport reform that ended on 30 June, and some 16,000 who did not exchange their identification documents will be fined, RosBalt reported on 7 July, citing the Bashkir Interior Ministry press service. The passport reform was begun in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan in May 2001, three years later than in the rest of Russia, as the republics insisted on the introduction of a "nationality" entry in the new passports. They eventually agreed to compromise that allowed for inserted pages in either Bashkir or Tatar and featuring those republics' respective state emblems. According to the chief federal inspector to Bashkortostan, 80 percent of Bashkortostan's residents received a passport with the local insert page while 20 percent received ones without it.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova