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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 8, 2003

8 January 2003
TAIF Official Confirms Plans To Sell Santel
Albert Shigabutdinov, chairman of the board of directors of the Tatar-American Investments and Finance group (TAIF), confirmed that the group's cell-phone company, TAIF-Telcom, marketed as Santel, could be sold "to one of the Russian cell-phone companies," Intertat reported on 7 January. Some Russian media had been predicting the sell-off of Tatarstan's major GSM provider, with its 240,000 subscribers (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 27 December 2002). Shigabutdinov refused to comment of the possible sale price, noting that "we have already come to a realistic price for the deal during negotiations with potential buyers."

Tupolev And KAPO Prepare New Project
Valentin Bliznyuk, chief engineer of the Russian Tupolev company, said on 4 January that his company and Kazan's Gorbunov aircraft plant (KAPO) were ready to create a new middle-range cargo jet, the Tu-330, which would require $100 million for building four experimental samples and completing the certification flights, Finmarket reported the same day. He claimed that investors were ready to fund the project, but with the precondition of state guarantees for their investments. According to Finmarket, the Russian government is not ready to provide guarantees for such risky ventures, such as the creation of new aircraft.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

UralSib Takes Out 15 Million-Euro Loan
UralSib bank has received a one-year, 15 million-euro ($15.6 million) credit from Germany's Commerzbank, Bashinform reported on 7 January. In 2002, UralSib received a $33 million credit from a syndicate of European banks and extended a $17 million credit it received in late 2001.

Kumertau Company Fulfills Indian Contract
The Kumertau Aviation Plant has announced that it has produced two Ka-31 helicopters for India in accordance with the terms of a contract signed in 2002, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 7 January. The aircraft will be delivered to India in several days.

Lawyer, Opposition Paper Call For Investigation Into Authorities' Activities
The opposition monthly newspaper "Otechestvo" published in its December issue a letter by lawyer Monir Rafiqov calling for the establishment of a public tribunal to investigate crimes allegedly committed by republican leaders. Rafiqov suggested that the tribunal consist of leading businessmen, lawyers, economists, and scholars in the republic who are not linked to the authorities. Rafiqov also said that those who have been forced to leave the republic by the "totalitarian" regime in Bashkortostan could also sit on the tribunal. "Otechestvo" also published an editorial backing Rafiqov's proposal and suggested that interested citizens could contact the paper's office.

Government Takes Steps To Promote Draft
The Bashkir Cabinet of Ministers has called on district and city administrations, as well as the heads of organizations and companies, to apply strict measures in support of the military draft, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 7 January. In accordance with a government resolution, registration offices and medical personnel are required to provide twice-monthly reports about the status of potential draftees to draft offices. The resolution also says that companies are not allowed to hire young men without first checking their military cards and registration at draft offices.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova