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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 11, 2004

11 August 2004
Unified Russia In Tatarstan To Meet With Public
Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin met on 10 August in Moscow with State Duma Deputy Speaker and Unified Russia faction deputy head Oleg Morozov, reported the same day. They discussed the establishment of groups including State Council and State Duma deputies who are Unified Russia members to hold meetings with the public in Tatarstan to consult with them on social, labor, housing, and municipal issues. The move was initiated by local members of Unified Russia in the wake of federal reforms that began in those areas.

Mukhametshin was also supposed to meet the same day with acting Russian presidential-administration head Vladislav Surkov to examine legislation on languages. The Tatar State Council has appealed to the Russian Constitutional Court on whether the federal law on languages, according to which using Cyrillic alphabets is mandatory for all state languages, is in line with the Russian Constitution.

Slovakia To Purchase Tu-214s...
At the second international exhibit of aerospace technology and equipment that opened in Kazan on 10 August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 August 2004), representatives of Kazan's Gorbunov Aviation Plant and Slovak Airlines (SA) announced the signing of a protocol on SA's intentions to purchase two Tu-214 jets, "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 11 August. The price of the deal is not available. SA Deputy General Director Robert Domcek told the daily that the jets will replace a Boeing 737-300 and a Boeing-757 produced in 1998 that SA plans to retire in late 2005.

...As Deputy Premiers Complains Of Jet's Low Sales
Tatar Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov said on 10 August that Tatarstan has invested 2.5 billion rubles ($85.5 million) in the development and certification of the Tu-214 airliner; 1.2 billion rubles and $120 million in creation of the Ansat, Aktai, and Mi-38 helicopters; and 270 million rubles in the development of the NK-93 engine for Tu-204, Tu-214, and Il-96 jets and the Ai-22 engine for Tu-324 and Yak-48 airliners, reported. Speaking at the applied-science conference on aerospace technology and equipment, Pakhomov said the money was came from the companies and from the republic. Pakhomov added that $15 million has been spent on the purchase of equipment for creation of the regional Tu-324 jet. Broad-scale production of the Tu-214, however, is impeded by improper schemes of leasing the aircraft despite its price being half that of similar jets produced abroad, Pakhomov said.

The State Scientific Center's Zhukovskii Aerohydrodynamic Institute Director Vladimir Dmitriev told the forum that an air-construction corporation uniting Kazan's Gorbunov Aviation Plant and other Russian civil-aviation companies may be set up by the end of the year.

Prime Minister Visits Abkhazia
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov visited Abkhazia on 10 August to promote cooperation between Tatarstan and the breakaway Georgian province, reported the same day, citing the cabinet's press service. The Tatar delegation including Housing and Construction Minister Marat Khosnullin, Ak Bars Bank Observers Council Chairman Robert Musin, and Ak Bars Holding Company General Director Ivan Yegorov met with Abkhaz Prime Minister Raul Khadjimba, Deputy Prime Minister Emma Taniya, administration head Oleg Botsyev, and State Property and Privatization Board Chairman Konstantin Katsyya. At the meeting with Khadjimba, the sides agreed to establish working groups to study and promote cooperation in the sectors of state management, economy and business, the agroindustrial complex, and tourism and use of health resorts.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Leadership Critical Of Administrative Reform
Commenting on the decree on administrative reform signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 23 July and the establishment of the commission on administrative reform, Bashkir presidential-administration head Radii Khebirov said the law and the commission put regions in unfavorable conditions, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 10 August. Khebirov said the commission seeks to annul extra powers of federation subjects, and that the signing of the document and appearance of the commission are a sign that forces promoting the restriction of regions' powers dominate in Russia's leadership. He added that in addition to the administrative-reform decree, the State Duma has recently passed many documents restricting the rights of regions, in violation of Article 72 of the Russian Constitution. As a result of those activities, numerous regional powers have been transferred to the federal authorities while their financial supply has been shouldered on regions, he said. Khebirov also criticized the practice of appointing officials in the regions without consulting regional leaders, who are in fact responsible for the socioeconomic, political, and public developments there.

Heineken Takes Over Sterletamaq Brewery
Netherlands-based Heineken announced on 10 August that it signed a contract to purchase 100 percent of Russia's Central European Brewing Company (TsEPKO), and other news agencies reported on 10 August. TsEPKO controls 78 percent of the Sterletamaq-based Shikhan brewery and 100 percent of Nizhnii Novgorod's Volga brewery. As a result of the deal, Heineken will become Russia's third-biggest brewer with over 7 percent of the market and volume of 5.9 million hectoliters of beer a year. Heineken executive board member Jean Francois van Boxmeer commented, "The Shikhan and the Volga Breweries offer us a better geographical spread of production facilities in the fastest-growing regions in Russia."

Bashkortostan's Shikhan produced 1.4 million hectoliters of beer in 2003 and controls 24 percent of the republic's beer market.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova