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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 25, 2003

25 April 2003
Ramstor Hypermarket Opens In Kazan
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Turkey's Ambassador to Russia Kurtulush Tashkent took part on 24 April in the opening ceremony of Kazan's largest hypermarket and trade complex, Ramstor, reported the same day. The new complex is 12,500 square meters and includes 40 shops, four restaurants, and a cinema. Ramstor is capable of serving up to 15,000 clients a day and is the fifth such facility established in Russia by the Turkish company Ramenka.

Turkish Ambassador Meets With Tatar Officials
Meeting with Turkish Ambassador Tashkent on 24 April, President Shaimiev praised the quality of construction work done by Turkish companies in Kazan, in particular the reconstruction of the Tatar presidential residence, the Musa Jelil Opera, the Ballet Theater, the Qol Sherif mosque, and the Pyramid entertainment center, Tatar-inform reported the same day. Turkish construction contracts are worth $30 million-$40 million a year in Tatarstan.

Shaimiev also urged speeding up the implementation of a contract on the delivery of 2.5 million tons of Tatar oil to Turkey this year, which was delayed by unsettled property issues at the Kremenchug oil refinery, which is currently controlled by Tatarstan. Tashkent said that under the contract, bilateral trade turnover may reach $500 million and, in the future, could reach $1 billion a year. During the meeting with Tashkent the same day, Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khefiz Salikhov said that deliveries of oil and oil products processed at Ukraine's Kremenchug oil refinery will likely begin in June. This is "the first direct contract on sale of Russian oil to Turkey," Salikhov said.

Organization Of World Heritage Cities Opens Headquarters In Kazan
The headquarters of the Euro-Asian Regional Department of the Organization Of World Heritage Cities will be established in Kazan, reported on 24 April, citing the Kazan administration. The decision was passed at a meeting of the organization's administrative council held in Toledo, Ohio. The Organization Of World Heritage Cities was established in 1992 to promote the implementation of the Convention on Defense of World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Charter on Preservation of Historical Cities and Districts, and to promote cooperation and exchange of information among organization members. The organization, which currently has its central headquarters in Quebec, Canada, unites 192 cities. The Kazan office will bring together cities in Russia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Japan, China, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Laos.

Court Rejects Yabloko Suit Against CEC
The Tatar Supreme Court has rejected on 24 April an appeal by the deputy head of the Yabloko Tatar regional department, Ildus Selekhov, who claimed that the Tatar Central Electoral Commission (CEC) violated the law during the formation of the territorial electoral commissions, reported the same day. Selekhov protested the fact that Yabloko representatives were not included in 47 of 63 territorial electoral commissions and are represented only in 16 of them. The court ruled that the CEC had observed the law as half of the commissions' members represent political parties. Under the amended federal law on guaranteeing electoral rights, 50 percent of the members of electoral commissions are to be members of parties represented in the State Duma.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

New Appointments Expected On Bashneft Board Of Directors
Two representatives from the Swedish Vostok Nafta Investment Ltd. and Basic Element, a Russian investment holding, will likely be represented on the board of directors of the Bashneft oil company during its shareholders' meeting on 28 April, RosBalt reported yesterday. The agency also cited Bashneft's press service as saying that the candidacies of Bashkir Economy Minister Valentin Vlasov, Property Relations Minister Zoefer Gebdrekhimov, and Foreign Economic Affairs and Trade Minister Boris Kolbin will be proposed for the board.

Ural Rakhimov, son of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, currently chairs the oil company's board of directors. Until recently, the republican government owned 63.7 percent of Bashneft's shares, but in August 2002 President Rakhimov issued a decree allowing the company to sell off its shares without the government's authorization. Bashneft press service reported yesterday that in 2002 the company earned 5.8 billion rubles ($184 million) in net profits.

Nationwide Conference Focuses On Drug Addiction In Russia
According to a nationwide scientific conference, "The drug-addiction situation -- a threat to national security," held at Bashkir State University on 24 April, the annual turnover of Russia's drug market is estimated at 40 billion rubles ($1.27 billion), Bashinform reported yesterday. There is also a growing trend for average drug users to be experimenting with harder drugs, such as heroin, the agency reported. More than 5,000 of Bashkortostan's residents are officially registered drug addicts and, according to local researchers, the actual figure could be 10 times as much. During the first quarter of 2003, there were 1,500 drug-related crimes registered in the republic. The participants of the conference reportedly noted with regret that Russia does not have a scientific institution for monitoring the country's drug addiction rate.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi