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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 6, 2004

6 September 2004
Tatar President Expresses Condolences To Ossetian People
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev on 4 September sent a telegram to North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov to express his condolences to the republic's people following last week's hostage taking in Beslan that resulted in the deaths of some 335 people, the presidential press service reported. Shaimiev offered Tatarstan's assistance in treating children who were injured during the attack.

Days Of Tatarstan's Economy In Turkey
The Days of Tatarstan's economy were held in Turkey on 3-4 September, including a presentation of Tatarstan's economic potential on 4 September within the framework of the Izmir International Exhibit and a meeting of Tatar and Turkish businessmen at the Izmir Trade Chamber, reported the same day. The Turkish contingent was represented at the event by Izmir Province Governor Ziya Yusuf Geksu, Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Minister Kurshat Tuzmen, Russian-Turkish Business Council Chairman Turgut Gur, and Turkey's former consul general to Kazan Ahmet Riza Demirer. The Tatar delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov. Tatarstan's Tatneft, Kazanorgsintez, and Nizhnekamskneftekhim companies took part in the exposition.

Speaking at the presentation, Russian's trade representative to Turkey Vladimir Fitin said Tatarstan plays a large role in Russian-Turkish relations. Bilateral trade turnover between Russia and Turkey is currently up 60 percent over last year's figures over the same period, and is expected to total $9 billion for the year. Trade turnover between Tatarstan and Turkey totaled $700 million in 2003, including $600 million worth of oil deliveries by Tatneft to Turkey. Fitin also expressed his hope that the issue of the privatization of 66 percent of the Turkish oil refining holding Tupras will be resolved and the alliance between Tatneft's German affiliate Efremov Kautchuk and the Turkish Zorlu financial/industrial group will be recognized as the winners of the tender since they did not violate laws of either Turkey, Russia, or Tatarstan. On 3 June, Turkey's Supreme Court annulled the result of a 13 January tender initially won by a joint venture between Efremov Kautchuk and Zorlu (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 7 June 2004).

The Days of Tatarstan's economy were originally scheduled to follow a planned visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey that was cancelled as a result of the hostage-taking crisis in Beslan. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev was also originally expected to attend the event.

Eight Candidates To Run For Seven Election Commission Seats
The State Council Committee on Legality, Regulations, and Deputies Ethics at its 3 September meeting accepted eight of the 19 applications it received from prospective candidates for the republican Central Election Commission, "Kommersant-Volga" reported on 4 September. According to republican law, half of the body's 14 members is appointed by the Tatar president while the other half is nominated by the State Council. Committee Chairman Aleksandr Gusev said that the failure of 11 of the applicants to meet requirements lies "completely with the parties and public movements that prepared documents with such big violations." Gusev said many of the failed applications were not filed by the deadline, presented charters of organizations that were not notarized, or were handed in by individuals nominating themselves independently, which is not permitted by law. Specifically, Yabloko candidate Ildus Soltanov's application was rejected because he presented a uncertified charter of the party branch, Gusev said. The new election commission will be elected during the Tatar legislature's 9 September plenary session.

Kazan Administration Rejects Muslim Group's Requests
The Kazan administration has rejected all the requests a group of Kazan Muslims made to the Kazan mayor in late June, "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 3 September. The group appealed in a letter signed by some 1,600 Muslims that the city remove all billboard advertisements featuring nudity in time for Kazan's millennium celebrations in 2005. They also called for the city to equip public toilets with the means for ritual ablution. Kazan administration staff head Rostem Nigmetullin said in response to the requests that the issue of removing the billboard advertisements falls under the competence of the Federal Antimonopoly Service's Tatar Board, not the Kazan administration, and that public toilets are in such a bad state that their very existence is threatened.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Youth Groups Demonstrate Against Terrorism
Some 300 people from Bashkortostan's Democratic Youth Union and the local Pioneers organization demonstrated in front of the Gostinnii Dvor trade and business center in Ufa on 3 September to condemn terrorism following the tragic 1-3 September hostage taking in Beslan, North Ossetia, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Youth Union Chairman Aleksei Spigin called terrorism "the evil every person should oppose," adding, "All of us should support the Russian government in any form of struggle with this internationally spread evil."

Some demonstrators displayed placards urging a tough stance against terrorism.

Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, who returned from an official trip to Turkey on 3 September, sent a message of condolence to North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov "and all the people of his republic, the families, relatives, and friends of those who suffered from the terrorist act." Rakhimov called the loss of lives particularly dramatic because it involves so many children. "This cynical crime by international terrorism was aimed against peace and concord in the North Caucasus and against all of Russia," Rakhimov said. "The people of Bashkortostan are shocked and indignant at this barbaric act and demand a resolute resistance to all who try to take our peaceful life. Criminals must serve a deserved punishment. These tragic days, we deeply mourn together with the families and friends of those whose lives were taken."

Medical Institutions Reported To Top Blacklist Of Major Air Polluters In Ufa
Recent monitoring of air pollution conducted by the city of Ufa's environmental department suggests that a local emergency medical facility and a republican blood center are major polluters due to the aging vehicles in their fleets, Vsya Ufa TV claimed on 3 September. Two private bus companies, UPAP-4 and Avtolain, are also said to be on the polluters blacklist.

The city's conclusions also single out auto exhaust in general, despite suspicions that Ufa's oil-refining facilities contribute heavily to air pollution.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi