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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 10, 2004

10 November 2004
Major Tatar Industries Offer To Invest In Housing Sector
Housing Minister Marat Khosnullin told reporters on 9 November that a working group within Tatarstan's government sent a package of investment projects to the republic's major industries -- Tatenergo, Tatneft, Tatgazinvest, Ak Bars Bank, and Intekhbank -- seeking at least 1 billion rubles ($34.5 million) of private investment in the housing sector in 2005 and not less than 33 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) by 2010, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Khosnullin added that the government hopes to attract potential investors with the "unprecedentedly high" profitability of the housing sector, due to the high tariffs planned for 2005. The amount of investment needed is due to the significant rate of wear of heating and water networks, averaging 40 to 80 percent. On 11 November, Tatarstan's State Council is to pass in the final reading a reform and modernization program for the republic's housing sector in 2005-10. So far, only the Tatenergo energy company has confirmed its interest in the housing-investment program.

Russian Finance Minister Put In Charge Of Kazan Millennium Celebrations
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin to take over the organization of preparations for the Kazan millennium celebrations, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Kudrin has already informed Putin that the organizational committee is to meet on 12 November, adding that the primary aim of the preparations is "not the holiday itself, but the renovation of the town, solving the problems of worn-out housing and the construction of the subway and the bridge over the Volga." He also assured him that "all ministries and state agencies" will be involved in preparing the celebrations.

Tatar Hockey Club Signs Seven NHL Players For 2004-05 Season
Having already signed four NHL hockey players, Kazan's Ak Bars hockey club recently signed Nikolai Khabibulin, Vincent Lecavalier, and Brad Richards of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 10 November. The daily also cited "a tradition of not mentioning the amounts of hockey contracts in the republic, to avoid discontent among the not so well-off residents of Tatarstan." Unnamed hockey experts reportedly talk about an average of $1.6 million for season offered for each player. Before the club came under the sponsorship of the Tatneft oil company in 2004, Ak Bars Bank of Tatarstan was the sponsor of the team, which in the last five years has yet to finish above second place in Russia's national league.

Police Seize Major Drug Shipment
Kazan police detained a female drug dealer from Kyrgyzstan carrying about a kilogram of heroin, "Kommersant" reported on 10 November. According to investigators, the 41-year-old woman is connected to a major cartel smuggling drugs from Central Asia to central Russia. If found guilty, she could face 10 years in prison.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan Seeks To Assemble Brazilian Tractors
A Bashkir governmental delegation led by Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov began a visit to Brazil on 9 November, discussing prospects for cooperation with AGCO Brazil for the possible launch of an assembly line for its tractors and harvester machines in Bashkortostan, the Bashkir government's press service reported the same day. In 2003, foreign trade between Bashkortostan and Brazil totaled $50 million, mostly fertilizers and chemicals exported to Brazil and sugar, confectionery, and electrical equipment imported from that South American country.

Government Bodies To Swallow 3.1 Percent Of Republican Budget
Government bodies will account for 7.6 billion rubles ($263 million), or 22.8 percent, of the republics budget for maintaining the system of republican and local government and implementing its state policies in 2005, Bashinform reported on 9 November. Maintenance of Bashkortostan's government bodies itself will cost the republican budget 3.1 percent of total expenses slated for the year, or $34 million, according to Bashinform.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi