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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 19, 2003

19 March 2003
Tatar Leaders Against Use Of Force In Iraq
The head of the Tatar Public Center (TIU), Reshit Yegeferov, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 18 March that the TIU is against possible U.S.-led military action in Iraq, adding that the TIU plans to continue demonstrations against a possible war and to keep collecting signatures from citizens who support Iraq in the dispute. Meanwhile, the head of the World Tatar Congress, Rinat Zakirov, told an RFE/RL Kazan-based correspondent the same day that the further escalation of the conflict over Iraq could lead to serious changes in international relations, including a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. "This is why we support the use of peaceful means to resolve the crisis that are based on the norms of international law," Zakirov said.

Daily: Attempt To Sell Brewery Could Be A Bluff
The head of SUN Interbrew, Joe Strella, has confirmed reports that the company plans to sell its Kazan-based Krasnyi Vostok brewery for $400 million-$600 million, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 19 March. The paper also noted that the asking price is significantly higher than the $4 million price the brewery's general director, Ayrat Kheirullin, announced in late 2001. At that time, the Kazan city administration's 25 percent stake was valued at $1 million. Based on the price mentioned by SUN Interbrew, however, the city's stake would be worth up to $150 million, the paper wrote. The daily also noted that either the brewery has experienced significant growth over the past year that has seen its value increase at least 100 times or the attempt to sell it for $600 million is a "pure bluff."

TAIF-Telkom Restores Connections To Other Providers
Tatarstan's TAIF-Telkom restored connections between its subscribers and those of other cell-phone providers on 18 March (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 and 28 February and 10 March 2003), thus bringing to an end a dispute the company had with competitor Vympelkom, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 19 March. In doing so, however, the company announced that in making cross-network connections, it will charge its clients for a long-distance call.

Bulgarian Ambassador Visits Kazan
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov met with Bulgarian Ambassador to Russia Iliyan Vasilev in Kazan on 18 March to discuss bilateral cooperation in the machine-building, agriculture, oil-processing, and tourism industries, reported the same day.

!Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Final Elections Results Announced...
According to final results, the turnout in the 16 March parliamentary elections was 57 percent, from 26 percent in Ufa up to 95 percent in rural districts, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 18 March. There were seven women among those who won seats, or 6 percent of the total. Twelve of 22 members of the previous State Assembly's Legislative Chamber were re-elected, as well as another 31 former deputies of the legislature's Chamber of Representatives. Eighty-nine deputies were elected from Unified Russia, three from the Agrarian Party, two from the Union of Rightist Forces, and one deputy each from the People's Party, Yabloko, and the Labor Bashkortostan movement.

...As No Major Violations Reported
Bashkir Central Election Commission Chairman Baryi Kinjegulov said on 18 March that 600 election supervisors found no violations, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. However, Kinjegulov said, 100 residents called the commission on 16 March to report violations and commission members were immediately sent to those places to address problems. Specifically, the correspondent cited an incident in Koergeze Raion where 600 marked ballots were taken from a man as he tried to put them into a ballot box.

Federal Central Election Commission member Yevgenii Kolyushin, who supervised the Bashkir elections, said they had many advantages in comparison with the recent campaigns in Nizhnii Novgorod and St. Petersburg.

Analyst Says Kirienko Beaten By Rakhimov In Elections
Political researcher Dmitrii Badovskii told "Vremya novostei" on 18 March that efforts by presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko "to push through in the parliament his candidates for the sake of participation in the upcoming privatization of the Bashkir fuel and energy complex" failed. "Vremya novostei" cited a source in the Kremlin as saying the Bashkir parliamentary elections showed that "administrative resources are huge" and victory was secured by the unrestricted power of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov rather than by dishonest ways of campaigning or scandals.

Czech Businessmen Visit Ufa
A delegation from the Czech Republic headed by Deputy Finance Minister Ladislav Zelinka arrived in Ufa on 18 March to discuss cooperation in the trade, financial, machine-building, and transport sectors, RosBalt reported the same day. During their three-day visit, delegation members are scheduled to meet with President Rakhimov, Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov, and local businessmen.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova