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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 26, 2003

26 May 2003
Official Admits Further Growth Of Grain, Bread Prices
The recent pledge by the republic's bread producers not to raise prices until 2004 was "rather optimistic," while grain prices will reportedly rise by some 200 rubles ($6.3) per ton every month and will do so until this year's harvest reaches Tatarstan's grain dryers in late July 2003, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily reported on 24 May, citing the Tatar prime minister's adviser on agriculture, Anatolii Krasnov. Krasnov admitted, however, that Tatarstan does not face the risk of grain shortage, with 862,000 tons of grain in its reserves and the average monthly consumption is estimated at 100,000 tons.

Radio Mayak Seeks To Expand Broadcasting In Tatarstan
President Mintimer Shaimiev met with state-owned Mayak radio Chairwoman Irina Gerasimova on 23 May to discuss possibilities for expanding the company's broadcasts in Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Currently, listeners in Tatarstan can hear Mayak's programs via wire radio (radiotochka) and on the medium-wave band, while its FM broadcasts are not yet available in the republic. The parties reportedly agreed on two possibilities: either establishing a company for managing Mayak's broadcasting in Tatarstan, or making direct offers to Tatar radio stations to sign rebroadcasting contracts with Mayak.

Shaimiev Inaugurates Russian Folk Festival
President Shaimiev and his wife Sakine Shaimieva attended the annual Karavon Russian folk festival in the village of Russkoe Nikolskoe, Layesh region, on 24 May, Intertat reported the same day. Russian folk-music and dance groups from across Tatarstan, as well as from Bashkortostan, Udmurtiya, the Marii El Republic, Kirov Oblast, and other neighboring regions joined the event, during which Shaimiev announced that the festival had been given official status in Tatarstan.

KamAZ Helps To Rebuild Afghanistan
KamAZ sent the first shipment of 12 heavy trucks of the 72-vehicle contract with the UN, which plans to use the trucks for transporting humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Tatar-inform reported on 23 May. The company reportedly won the tender held among leading international auto manufacturers and will complete the contract by mid-June 2003.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Moscow Banker Reportedly Planning Run For Presidency
Sergei Veremeenko, manager of Russia's International Industrial Bank (MezhPromBank), may leave his current position to run in the December 2003 presidential election in Bashkortostan, "Vedomosti" wrote on 22 May citing sources within the bank and several unofficial sources. In April, the bank was rated as the fifth largest in Russia according to assets of 116.6 billion rubles ($3.7 billion) and the third largest according to the size of its own capital of 28 billion rubles ($890 million).

"Vedomosti" referred to an unnamed "political consultant" close to Mezhprombank as saying that Veremeenko was firm in his decision to run for president "after the recent assassination attempt against his brother in Ufa. After this event he began taking his battle with President Murtaza Rakhimov as a personal vendetta." The banker is said to have had a close relationship with Rakhimov and his son Ural until 2002 when Yeremeenko pushed the appointment of his brother, Aleksandr, as a head of Bashtransgaz -- the local branch of the Russian Gazprom monopoly -- without Rakhimov's blessing.

On 13 May, unidentified people set a booby trap using five hand grenades at the gates of Aleksandr Veremeenko's house in the Ufa suburbs. An explosion was prevented by an alert security guard.

Communist Leader Denies His Party Supports Rakhimov For President
Following recent reports in the Bashkir media saying that Communists in the republic will support President Rakhimov's candidacy in the December election (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 May 2003), the head of the Russian Communist Party branch in the republic, Valentin Nikitin, told Rosbalt the next day that those reports are part of a "thoroughly planned action aimed at splitting up the Communists on the eve of the December elections." Nikitin claimed that the recently cited statements in Rakhimov's support from Communist Party branches in 13 regions of Bashkortostan were "forged under the pressure of local administrations." He insisted that Communist Party members had a right to support any candidate they want, and added that the election campaign had not officially started, "so we have no right to propose any candidates."

Moscow To Cover Cost Of Maintaining Most Of Bashkortostan's Heating Network
Bashkortostan will spend 492 million rubles ($15.6 million) this year on readying its heating network for the winter season, the governmental press service reported on 24 May. Some 74 percent of the total cost of this project will be transferred from the federal budget within a program of socioeconomic development.

Bashneftekhim Agrees To Repay Delayed Taxes
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said that the Bashneftekhim petrochemical concern "has settled all the problems with the Russian Tax Ministry" by agreeing to pay 10 billion rubles ($317 million) of delayed taxes to the federal budget, "Vedomosti" wrote on 22 May. The Bashkir concern previously sought to avoid the payment of the taxes by registering its production facilities at the Baikonur offshore zone in Kazakhstan, using a scheme already implemented by the gas giant LUKOil and officially "disapproved of" by the Russian government.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi