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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 13, 2004

13 October 2004
Sberbank Issues $740 Million's Credit For Kazanorgsintez
Tatarstan's TAIF, Kazanorgsintez (KOS), and Russia's Sberbank signed on 12 October in Moscow a general cooperation agreement under which the bank will open a credit line for KOS to fulfill its $840 million strategic-development program, and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 12 and 13 October, respectively.

Sberbank First Deputy Board Chairwoman Alla Aleshkina said the bank intends to provide $740 million in credits for KOS investment projects. Aleshkina said the money will be allocated in two parts, the first of which will be $240 million provided from this fall through 2007. She added that a corresponding decision may be passed by Sberbank in October-November. In the second stage, which is to finish in 2011, the bank will credit KOS another $500 million.

TAIF General Director Albert Shihabetdinov said TAIF took part in the agreement as a guarantor of loans, and added that the company will maintain its control of KOS. Shihabetdinov also said money received in the initial stage will be used to finance an increase of polyethylene production from 190,000 tons to 500,000 tons a year, ethylene production from 334,000 tons to 590,000 tons a year, and the construction of plants for the production of bisphenol A and polycarbonate. In the second stage, production of ethylene-propylene 600 and polyethylene 350 will be launched.

KOS manufactures more than 1 million tons of organic chemical products a year, and accounts for 38 percent of Russia's polyethylene production, 46 percent of its production of polyethylene pipes, 21 percent of phenol, and 22 percent of acetone. Having 1.9 billion rubles' capital, the company posted 1.7 billion rubles in sales in 2003 and a net profit of 889 million rubles. TAIF, which is controlled by President Mintimer Shaimiev's son Radik, comprises more than 30 investment, telecommunications, oil refining, petrochemical, and construction companies and controls 47 percent of KOS.

Shaimiev Proposes Elimination Of Mayoral Elections
State Duma Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 October that President Mintimer Shaimiev, who is member of Unified Russia's Supreme Council, has suggested that the proposed abolishment of direct elections of governors in Russia be accompanied by similar measure as regards city mayors. Tatar authorities are apparently ready to back a new mechanism of electing governors on the condition that governors are given the authority to appoint mayors in their jurisdiction.

PACE Officials Meet With Representatives Of Ethnic Minorities...
Visiting Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) members David Atkinson and Rudolf Bindig met on 12 October in Kazan with heads of Tatarstan's national cultural autonomies, reported the same day. At the meeting, representatives of South Caucasus and Middle Asia discussed their problems in obtaining citizenship and employment. Ukrainians shed light on violations of labor legislation regarding foreign workers while representatives of Tatarstan's indigenous peoples -- Mariis, Mordovians, Udmurts, and Bashkirs -- called for the establishment of a newspaper that would report on the communities. Visitors addressed numerous questions to the head of the Chechen-Ingush national cultural autonomy concerning interethnic relations and were met with the answer that members of the autonomy do not face any problems. Atkinson concluded that he has never met such a colorful spectrum of peoples living in complete peace and concord. He added that Tatarstan should be a model in this respect for all of Russia and, the most importantly, for the North Caucasus.

...As Well As Religious And Political Leaders
On 12 October, the PACE officials held meetings with Tatarstan's religious leaders and heads of republic's political parties, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 12 October. In the first gathering, representatives of the Russian Orthodox, Catholic, Old Believers, Christian Coast Dwellers, and Lutheran churches, Pentecostalists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Judaism, and the Muslim Religious Board were in attendance.

Old Believers complained that under Russian law they are not permitted to work in law enforcement bodies because they have beards. Muslim representatives expressed their concerns over the media's treatment of Muslims.

During a second meeting attended by representatives of the republic's 11 political organizations, KPRF and Yabloko members complained of violations during elections. Tatarstan -- Yanga Gasyr (Tatarstan -- New Century) leaders expressed their disagreement with the provision of federal law prohibiting registration of regional movements as political parties.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatars Fell Behind Bashkirs In 2002 Census
In an interview with on 12 October, Bashkortostan ethnologist Ildar Gebdrefyiqov cited official results of the 2002 national census concerning Bashkortostan's ethnic makeup provided by the Russian Statistics Committee, according to which the number of Bashkirs exceeded Tatars in Bashkortostan. Of the republic's population of 4.1 million, 1.49 million or 36.3 percent were Russians, 1.22 million, or 29.8 percent Bashkirs, and 990,702 or 24.1 percent Tatars. Thus the number of Tatars fell by 131,000 since the 1989 census while that of Bashkirs grew by 260,000 in the same period. In 1989, Tatars were the second-largest ethnic group in the republic at 29 percent, followed by Bashkirs at 22 percent.

Meanwhile, Gebdrefyiqov said his ongoing monitoring of Bashkortostan's ethnic makeup provides evidence that the share of Tatars in the republic's population in the 2002 census should have been about 30 percent, while that of Bashkirs should have been about 23 percent. Gebdrefyiqov said the registration of Tatars as Bashkirs during the census resulted in the rise in the number of Bashkirs. He added that this is how the republic's leadership and the Bashkir national movement managed to make Bashkirs the second-most-numerous ethnicity in the republic. And republican authorities still have not announced the official results of the census concerning ethnic makeup.

National Muslim Human Rights Organization Established
Kamilzhan Kalandarov, a member of the Russian presidential Human Rights Commission and director of the Human Rights Institute, announced in Moscow on 12 October the formation of a Russia-wide civic organization named Haq-Justice to defend Russia's Muslims and other peoples from extremism, terror, and ethnic discord, Regnum reported the same day. Haq-Justice was established on the basis of the Islamic Human Rights Center and the Human Rights Institute and was supported by President Vladimir Putin and the presidents of Tatarstan, Daghestan, Bashkortostan, and Chechnya. Kalandarov expressed his hope for cooperation with representatives of all faiths, adding that several consultations have been held. Islamic Human Rights Center Director and Association of Mosques of Russia Chairman Mufti Ismagil Shangareev said Haq-Justice branches have been set up in 50 of Russia's regions. Moscow Helsinki Group Chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseeva commented that the appearance of Haq-Justice is an important event for the whole human rights community as there is no "other similar Muslim human rights organizations in our country."

Yekaterinburg Foundation Sues Bashkir Policemen
The Foundation of Swindled Shareholders of Uralinvestenergo in Sverdlovsk Oblast complained on 11 October to the prosecutor's office and the Interior Ministry against actions by two Bashkir Interior Ministry -Economic Crimes Department officers who the week before seized foundation computers and documents in Yekaterinburg, Interfax reported on 11 October. Foundation Executive Director Aleksandr Predein told a press conference the same day that the Bashkir officers broke the law as the search warrant was not properly sealed, was not signed by a prosecutor, and the policemen did not inform Sverdlovsk Oblast law enforcement bodies about the action. Predein claimed that the action was initiated by the Uralinvestenergo leadership, which "is persecuting the foundation to paralyze its work." He added that the foundation is defending the interests of 38,000 Uralinvestenergo shareholders who were deprived of their property by the management's sale of stakes to off-shore firms.

The Uralinvestenergo press service told Interfax that the search of the foundation might have been linked to the criminal case filed by Bashkortostan's Uchaly Raion prosecutor's office against former Uralinvestenergo Chairman Andrei Ekhtemov on allegations of misappropriating 30 percent of the company's shares. The press service claimed that "the foundation arranged by Ekhtemov is most likely a ploy aimed at destabilizing the company and corporate blackmail." The company's press service also said that Yekaterinburg's Lenin Raion prosecutor's office filed a criminal case on the severe beating of one of the policemen who searched in the foundation by foundation specialists.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova