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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 22, 2004

22 September 2004
Tatarstan, Korea Launch $3 Billion Project
Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun were present at the signing on 21 September in Moscow of a $1.7 billion investment agreement on construction of an oil refinery and petrochemical plant in Tuben Kama, the Tatar government press service announced the same day. Under the project, an oil refinery capable of processing 7 million tons of oil a year, a plant producing 40,000 tons of foamed polystyrene a year, and a plant producing 200,000 tons of linear polyethylene will be constructed in the first stage. The second stage includes construction of a $1.2 billion plant capable of producing 600,000 tons of ethylene a year.

At the presidents' meeting, an agreement on the design, delivery of equipment, and construction of the oil-refining and petrochemical complex was signed by Tatar-Korean Petrochemical Corporation (TKNK) Chairman and Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov and South Korean LG International President Keum Byung-joo. At the same meeting, Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and Korean Export-Import Bank President Shin Dong-kyu signed a memorandum on opening a $1.3 billion line of credit at the Korean bank for Tatar companies. TKNK was established in January by Tatneft (which owns 45 percent), Nizhnekamskneftekhim (36 percent), LG International Corp. (9 percent), and Tatarstan's state-run Svyazinvestneftekhim holding (9 percent).

Tatarstan's Humanitarian Aid Reaches North Ossetia
Tatarstan's Emergency Situations Minister Valerii Vlasov met on 20 September in Vladikavkaz with North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov to pass on humanitarian aid delivered from Tatarstan, Tatarinform reported on 21 September. Dzasokhov thanked the Tatar government and republican residents for their support and financial assistance for victims of the Beslan hostage crisis and expressed his hope for closer relations between the two regions and better-organized work on preventing acts of terrorism. Three KamAZ fire engines, three ambulances, medicines, foodstuffs, and clothes worth 9.5 million rubles ($325,000) were delivered to North Ossetia.

Interior Ministry Officer Charged With Taking Bribe
Kazan's Wakhitov Raion Court began hearing a criminal case against Wakhitov Interior Ministry employee Rinat Shakirjanov, who is accused of bribe taking, Regnum reported on 21 September. On 30 March, Shakirjanov allegedly blackmailed businessman Svyatoslav Kofman with compromising materials and extorted 40,000 rubles from him. On 1 April, Shakirjanov was detained by Interior Ministry officers as he was taking the money from Kofman. Shakirjanov may be sentenced to between three and seven years' imprisonment.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Calls For Governors' Return To Federation Council...
Commenting on the administrative reforms proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Murtaza Rakhimov criticized the activities of the current Federation Council and called for a return to having regional leaders sit on the council, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 21 September. Rakhimov said the heads of federation entities provided "support for the [Russian] president," adding that "we have never stood against the president." Meanwhile, the "money bags" who are currently Federation Council members act based on their own interests. The existing Federation Council does not meet current requirements, he added. Rakhimov also said the Russian Constitution should by no means be changed.

...Has Nothing Against Serving Another Term
Asked by reporters what he would do if he is nominated by President Putin to lead Bashkortostan again, Rakhimov criticized the existing practice of restricting regional leaders to two terms, saying if the leader "is normal," it does not matter how many terms he serves. "Everything depends on how he works. If he works excellently and people and the State Assembly support him, let him work," Rakhimov said.

Parliament Speaker Says Putin's Initiative In Line With Law
Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev said some politicians see in Putin's proposals violations of human rights and freedoms and democratic principles, but the imperfection of the election system and extreme weakness of civil society "make us agree" with the proposed reforms, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 21 September. The appointment of governors will save a lot of money and "dirty PR" will not poison people's consciences, Tolkachev said. He added that appointment of regional heads will help maintain a balance of power between Moscow and the regions and preserve the country's integrity, and there is nothing in Putin's proposals that contradicts the law.

Ufa Develops Broadcasting In Bashkir In Chelyabinsk Oblast
The Bashkortostan state TV and radio took responsibility for developing broadcasting in Bashkir in Chelyabinsk Oblast, TASS-URAL reported on 21 September, citing the Chelyabinsk Oblast gubernatorial press service. By 2005, Bashkortostan's SputnikTelecom plans to install five television and radio transmitters and launch test broadcast on channels of local television and radio companies. The entire projects costs 10 million rubles ($342,000).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova