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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 29, 2004

29 October 2004
Tatarstan, Kazakhstan Announce Plans To Expand Cooperation
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev completed his two-day visit to Kazakhstan on 28 October without signing the previously prepared agreement on bilateral economic cooperation, "Kommersant" reported the next day. However, Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov told reporters on 28 October that the sides "discussed a wide spectrum of issues, which provide for further increasing the level of our relations." He emphasized that the sides confirmed their plans to develop cooperation in petrochemistry, oil extraction, and machine building. Akhmetov admitted that Kazakhstan lacked Tatarstan's experience in the petrochemical industry and sought its assistance in renovating the Aqtau oil refinery. Kazakhstan is reportedly also interested in sharing Tatarstan's technologies for extracting oil from nearly exhausted deposits.

In addition, the KamAZ automaker is preparing a project for assembling its KT-240-K tractor at the premises of the Semipalatinsk machinery plant to meet the demand for modern agricultural machinery in Kazakhstan. Earlier this year, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said during his trip to Tatarstan that "although the volume of bilateral trade between the two republics rose by 30 percent in 2003 and reached $5.3 billion, Tatarstan's share constituted some $150 million; this is not enough."

Charges Lifted On Alleged Leader Of Kazan Criminal Group
Tatarstan's Supreme Court on 28 October lifted the charges on Vyacheslav Platonov, who was accused of organizing the "Nizy" criminal group in Kazan in the early 1990s and plotting a number of murders, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Two former officers of the special police task force, Ruslan Zverenkov and Rafail Gajiev, who were found guilty of the murders of alleged Kazan underworld leaders, received a life sentence and nine years in prison, respectively. The investigation failed to establish Platonov's connection to the crimes and the suspect was released after the court session.

Kazan To Join Short-Range Airliner Project
Short-range Tu-334 airliners will be assembled at the Lukhovitsy aircraft plant in Moscow Oblast and the Kazan aircraft plant, Tupolev General Director Igor Shevchuk told reporters on 28 October, Interfax-AVN reported the same day. By the end of 2004, creators of the new Tu-334 expect to solve all the issues with the aircraft's certification, and begin its assembly in cooperation with Ukraine's aircraft industries. The airplane is to replace the old Tu-134 and Tu-154-B aircraft, which are currently becoming "morally and physically outdated." According to Russia's State Aviation Service, the annual demand for the Tu-334 in the country is estimated at 170-180 aircraft, while the CIS market is reported to have the capacity for 800 such machines per year.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Military Commissioner Says Despite Numerous Deaths, Army Service Remains Attractive...
Bashkortostan's chief military commissioner, Major General Timofei Azarov, told a news conference in Ufa on 28 October that "although 55 army recruits from Bashkortsotan died during army service, the number of young men eager to join the armed forces is increasing," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. As many as 8,100 young men from Bashkortostan will join the army this fall and only 20 of them have applied for alternative army service. Azarov said the alternative army service is harder than the military one and had more deserters.

...As Investigation Of Death Of Bashkir Navy Officer Nears End
The parents of Pavel Mardan, a Russian Navy officer from Bashkortostan, arrived in the Baltic Fleet headquarters in Kaliningrad to study the materials of the murder case of their son, who was found strangled aboard the "Bespokoinii" minesweeper, Regnum reported on 28 October. The investigators have arrested two suspects, including Yurii Konyshev, son of the former chief of staff of the Baltic Fleet naval base, Counter Admiral Aleksandr Konyshev. Previously, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov had asked Baltic Fleet commander Admiral Vladimir Baluev to ensure the unbiased investigation of the case.

Bashkir Polcie Pessimistic About Use Of Rubber Bullets
Vsya Ufa TV on 28 October cited local police officers as opposing the federal Interior Ministry's plans to introduce the use of rubber bullets instead of the currently used ammunition. The officers were mainly concerned with the impossibility of stopping a suspect's vehicle or ensuring adequate response to heavily armed criminals while being limited to plastic or rubber bullets. Interior Ministry officials explained the need to introduce rubber bullets by the problem with excessive use of firearms by police officers in the Moscow subway and the regions.

Depite Deficit, Republican Budget Passed In First Reading
The Bashkir State Assembly passed the draft republican budget for 2005 in the first reading on 28 October, an RFE/RL correspondent reported the next day. The budget reportedly contains a $90 million deficit, which according to Finance Minister Ayrat Geskerov will be compensated for by the surplus in this year's budget. Economic Development and Industry Minister Valentin Vlasov told the parliamentary session that in the last six years, Bashkortostan's gross regional product has risen by 30 percent. Nevertheless, he added that in 2004 the profits of Bashkortostan's companies are expected to fall by 10.8 percent as compared to 2003.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi