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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 14, 2003

14 February 2003
British Ambassador Visits Republic
British Ambassador to Russia Sir Roderic Lyne is in Tatarstan for a two-day visit, reported on 13 February. Lyne is taking part in a conference on federalism, regional policy, and local self-government that began in Alabuga on 13 February. During his trip, the ambassador is also scheduled to meet with State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov, and Tatar Muslim Religious Board Deputy Chairman Weliulla Yaqubov. Lyne also plans to visit the Kazan Helicopter Plant and the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Kazan.

TMK To Increase Sales To Tatarstan
The Agency on International Cooperation of the Tatar government signed a cooperation agreement with the Pipe Metallurgy Company (TMK) -- a consortium of Russia's leading pipe manufacturers that produces 45 percent of the pipes made in Russia and accounts for 60 perecent of the country's exports -- in Kazan on 13 February, reported the same day. TMK, which in the past has sold 71,000 tons of piping to Tatarstan annually, plans to increase its sales to 110,000-130,000 tons a year. Tatarstan purchases 240,000 tons of piping annually. Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said that the deal would not have an adverse effect on the Elmet Pipe Plant, which does not produce the same kinds of pipes as TMK.

Suspicious Envelopes Seized At Kazan Post Office
Two envelopes addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and containing an unidentified powder were discovered during routine mail sorting at a post office in Kazan on 13 February, reported the same day. The powder has been sent to a laboratory to test its chemical composition.

Supreme Court Chairman Discusses Crime Statistics For 2002
Tatar Supreme Court Chairman Gennadii Baranov told a meeting on 13 February devoted to the results of court activities in 2002 that federal courts convicted 16,000 individuals of crimes in Tatarstan last year, which represented a decrease of 36 percent in comparison with the previous year, reported the same day. The number of crimes registered in the republic also decreased in 2002 by 19 percent to 57,600, while the number of so-called serious crimes decreased by 27.5 percent, Baranov said. The number of minors convicted of crimes in 2002 decreased to 2,278 from 3,030 in 2001. The court chairman added that decrease in crime statistics was largely the result of changes in Russian legislation, which no longer counts petty theft as a crime.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Republic Facing Flu Epidemic...
The head of the Epidemiology Department at the republic's agency for monitoring epidemics, Zoehre Shagieva, told RosBalt on 13 February that more than 27,000 people in Bashkortostan are currently infected with the flu, more than half of whom are children under the age of 14. Shagieva said that the influenza outbreak has already reached the level of an epidemic in the capital Ufa, where some 11,000 people are infected. Shagieva also said the entire republic would be facing an epidemic by the end of this week, though she said that the number of people infected is not expected to exceed the record of 166,000 -- 4 percent of the population -- reached in 2000.

...As Drug Company Stops Vaccine Production
Meanwhile, the Immunopreparat pharmaceuticals company has stopped producing its Grippol flu vaccine, RosBalt reported on 12 February. The company's general director, Mahamat Alsinbaev, told the agency that the company was forced to take this step because it already has 35 million doses of the vaccine in storage and that the regional governments that ordered the vaccine are unable to pay for it.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi