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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 13, 2003

13 January 2003
Government Seeks To Privatize 1,100 Companies
Land and Property Relations Minister Valerii Vasilyev said the Cabinet of Ministers plans to privatize and transform into joint-stock companies some 1,100 state-run enterprises and to significantly reduce the state's participation in joint-stock companies, "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 10 January. Vasilyev said only controlling interests in several companies of strategic importance, including Tatneft and Tatenergo, two of top three taxpayers, will be kept unsold. However, Tatspirtprom, the state-run alcohol monopoly, which pays 2 billion rubles to the budget a year, was not named among the strategic companies. The paper commented that such a large number of firms undergoing privatization will not be able to attract enough quality investors, so they will likely be sold below their market price. The paper explained the appearance of the plan of such "hasty privatization" possibly indicating a shuffling of some of the republic's political elite.

Merger Of Zenit, Ak Bars Banks Postponed
Representatives of the Zenit bank said on 8 January that a meeting of the bank's shareholders rejected in late December the proposed merger with the Ak Bars bank because of the disagreement of the Novolipetskii Metallurgy Plant, which owns 20 percent stake in Zenit, reported on 10 January. The agency cited the Novolipetskii Metallurgy Plant press service as reporting that consultations on the issue will be continued.

The merger was initiated by Tatneft, which owns 50 percent of Zenit and 29 percent of Ak Bars, but the oil company was not able to collect enough votes by other shareholders to back it. The Ak Bars observation council approved the merger with Zenit on 25 December, while it was approved by the Zenit council the next day.

Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov commented on the plan of the bank merger by saying that although the republic needs a powerful bank, "we should three times think it over before the adoption of such a crucial and unprecedented decision," the agency said.

Issue Of Tatar University Revived
During a December session of the Tatar State Council, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev backed the idea of establishing a Tatar National University, adding that it will be set up on the basis of the Tatar State Humanitarian Institute, "Zvezda Povolzhya" and "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 10 January. Tatar authorities have been sharply criticized over the past decade for dragging out the opening of a Tatar university, which has been strongly promoted by the Tatar intelligentsia and national movement. "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 10 January that Moscow is anxious about the prospect of opening a Tatar ethnic university.

Tennis Center To Be Constructed In Tatarstan
Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpishchev and Tatar Youth Affairs and Sport Minister Marat Bariev discussed on 10 January a project on building a tennis center in Tatarstan, reported the same day. The center, including four covered courts and up to 12 open tennis sites, is planned to be built within two years. Tatar Tennis Federation President Rinat Zahidullin told the agency that the republic needs a modern tennis center to develop the sport.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova