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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 29, 2004

29 September 2004
Tatneft Shareholders Offered Emergency Meeting In Absentia
Tatneft's board of directors decided on 28 September to hold an early shareholders meeting in absentia to hold a vote on paying dividends on privileged shares in full and 67 percent on regular shares, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The board voted to establish a committee on staff and revenues to prepare a list of recommendations for ensuring the stimulation of the company's personnel.

Also on 28 September, the "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily cited rumors about the possible sell-off of a 30 percent stake in Tatneft to the French oil company Total, something that reportedly caused a 6 percent rise of the company's shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Total reportedly declined to comment on the rumors, which led market analysts to discuss the prospects of the deal worth approximately $1.05 billion. However, the situation was later discovered to be a trick by Total to distract public attention from its purchase of a stake in another Russian fuel-sector company, Novotek.

Chally Muslim Leader Denies Rumors Of Extremist Religious Education
The head of the Chally Muslim community, Alfas Gaifulla, told reporters on 28 September that recent allegations of extremist religious activities in Tatarstan's second city "were not sufficient enough to comment on" as there were no Muslim organizations active there without his group's consent, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. He said that there were 12 Muslim congregations active in Chally, along with the local branch of the Kazan-based Islamic University of Russia as well as the Aq Mechet religious school. He emphasized that the Yoldiz and Darussalyam Muslim religious schools, once notorious for offering nontraditional Muslim education, are no longer active in Chally.

Cellulose Plant Threatens Tatarstan's Water Reserves
Waste water from Mari El's cellulose paper plant (Mariiskii TsBK) is a significant threat to the drinking water reserves of neighboring Tatarstan, Intertat reported on 28 September, citing the Tatar Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The plant, located in Volzhsk, close to the border between the two regions, reportedly uses no water-purifying facilities before pumping waste water into a lake, which is connected to the Volga River. According to the Tatar environmentalists, the waste water is a serious threat to flora and fauna in the Volga Basin and Kyubishev water reserve.

One In 10 Tatarstan Residents To Get Federal Subsidies
According to the federal law on replacing the system of social benefits with monetary compensation, 340,000 people in Tatarstan will get benefits from 1 January, Intertat reported on 28 September, citing Russian Pension Fund chief Airat Shefigullin. Along with monetary compensation, the beneficiaries will get free medical services, including free medicine prescribed by doctors.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Swiss Delegation Visits Bashkortostan
A delegation headed by Swiss Ambassador to Russia Erwin H. Hofer was scheduled to arrive on 28 September in Ufa, Bashinform reported the same day. Meetings with President Rakhimov, Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov, and Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Economic and Trade Minister Boris Kolbin are on the three-day visit's agenda. The diplomats will lay a wreath at a monument commemorating victims of the July 2002 aircraft collision over southern Germany that was blamed in part on Swiss air-traffic-control service Skyguide. The visitors were also expected to take part in a ceremony to lay the first stone in the construction of a settlement for refugees being built with Swiss support.

Ufa's Representative To Kazakhstan Gets Appointed
President Murtaza Rakhimov signed a decree on 24 September appointing Yerzhan Azanov as Bashkortostan's representative to the Kazakh capital Astana, Bashinform reported on 27 September. Azanov, 39, was born in Astrakhan Oblast and graduated from Tolyatti Polytechnical Institute. More recently, he served as director of the construction board of the Bashkortostanneftezavodstroi Trust in Ufa.

Ufa Aviation Engine Maker Promotes Cooperation With Strategic Partners
The correspondence vote of an Ufa Motor Building Industrial Association's (UMPO) extraordinary shareholders meeting ended on 28 September in Ufa, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 29 September. Shareholders considered a new charter and the passage of management to UMPO-Saturn Managing Company. The daily cited unnamed experts as commenting that the latter measure might result in redistribution of "centers of gravity" in the domestic aviation-construction industry.

One of Russia's leading aviation engine producers, UMPO was established in 1993 during the privatization of a former state-run company. Its sales in the first six months of 2004 totaled 4.6 billion rubles ($158 million). Venture's major shareholders include the Bashkir Property Ministry with 25 percent and a so-called golden share, the Ufa Machine Building Plant (10 percent), Moscow Deposit Clearing Company (34 percent), and Moscow United Finances (12 percent). The outlet also cited an unidentified source at UMPO as saying the prospects for integration between UMPO and Saturn and Salyut, with which UMPO has cooperated since Soviet days in the production of Su fighter engines, will be on the agenda. UMPO Strategic Development Director Pavel Krivnoi told the daily that the voting "does not yet mean UMPO's inclusion into any holding or merger with any company." He added, however, that the company promotes integration, since "competition is ruinous for the branch."

Former Visa Official In Court
The Ufa Kirov Raion Court has begun hearing a case in which a former head of the Ufa Kirov Raion Interior Department's Passport-Visa Service, Interior Colonel Venera Bakirova, has been accused of abuse of power, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 29 September. Bakirova is accused of illegally issuing passports to people who were not Russian citizens, for which she could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The criminal case against Bakirova was filed on 2 July after the Ufa Kirov Raion prosecutor's office twice refused to file it. By that time, Bakirova had already retired from her post. A Bashkortostan Prosecutor-General's Office senior investigator, Aufaz Qasqynbaev, charged in the daily that Bakirova illegally supplied 35 people who are not Russian citizens with passports, a majority of them migrants from former Soviet republics. Ten of them have been withdrawn and at least some of the others are wanted by law enforcement bodies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova