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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 12, 2003

12 February 2003
Deputy Prosecutor-General Reduces List Of Contested Articles In Tatar Constitution
The Tatar Supreme Court on 12 February is to begin hearing an appeal by Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev against 37 articles of the amended Tatar Constitution, "Kommersant" reported the same day. Zvyagintsev is requesting that the court declare 19 articles in the constitution contradictory to federal legislation and another 18 articles invalid. Zvyagintsev had previously challenged 52 articles but then reduced that number, the paper said.

KamAZ Boosts Activity In East European Markets
KamAZ Deputy General Director in charge of corporate strategy Ildar Khalikov said a project on producing a truck with a euro-3-standard engine produced by Hungary's Raba automaker, KamAZ's major partner in Eastern Europe, is being negotiated, "Vremya MN" reported on 12 February. KamAZ management decided to return after a decade of absence to the markets of Eastern Europe where some 50,000 KamAZ trucks are still in use, Yevgenii Pronin, the export director of the KamAZ export trade company, told the daily.

TIU Says It May Go Underground
A general assembly of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) gathered on 8 February in Kazan to discuss "ways of preserving the Tatar people in conditions of forcible harmonization of the Tatar Constitution with the federal one" and preparations for elections, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 10 February. The assembly passed resolutions on the political situation and on the activity of Tatar-language media during the elections and appeals to Tatar intelligentsia, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Duma Deputy Fendes Safiullin (Russia's Regions). Assembly participants sharply criticized the United States for its Iraq policy; Russian authorities for infringing upon the interests, languages, and cultures of non-Russian peoples and national republics; and Tatarstan's leadership and deputies for failure to defend the Tatar Constitution and interests of the Tatar people.

TIU Chairman Reshit Jegeferov told the forum that the worsening political situation in the country creates difficulties in maintaining TIU in its current shape, as a political organization promoting ideas of Tatar, Muslim, and Turkic unity. He said new legislation, which prohibits regional parties, might even force TIU to become an underground organization.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Court Resolves Property Dispute In Government's Favor
Bashkortostan's Arbitration Court ruled on 10 February that the handover of a controlling stake in the Salavatnefteorgsintez petrochemical plant to Russia's Gazprom should be cancelled, RosBalt reported on 11 February. The 53.92 percent stake was transferred to Gazprom in 1998 as compensation for a debt of 50.3 million rubles ($1.6 million) owed by Bashkir petrochemical industries to the gas monopoly. To make the deal official, in June 1999 Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev signed a contract on joint supply of raw materials to Salavatnefteorgsintez and Gazprom investment to the construction of a polyethylene- and ethylbenzine-production complex at the plant. In September 2002 the Bashkir Property Ministry declared its intention to break the contract, because Gazprom failed to fulfill its contractual obligations (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 September 2002).

Oil Prospecting Fails To Find Significant New Deposits
According to RIA-Novosti on 11 February, Bashkir oil prospectors discovered 4.5 million tons of oil reserves in the republic in 2002. In addition, deposits of 30,000 tons of copper were found, as well as 135 kilograms of gold. The republican and federal budgets reportedly shared the expenses on geological prospecting activities. Bashkortostan's annual oil production is about 12 million tons.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi