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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 10, 2003

10 June 2003
Federal Researchers Present Demography Report In Kazan
The Strategic Research Center of the Volga Federal District presented a report on Russia's migration flows and demographic resources on 9 June in Kazan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The document analyses Russia's rapidly dwindling population and sees the liberalization of migration legislation as a main solution for stabilizing the population. Zhanna Zayonchkovskaya, one of the report's authors, said during the presentation that by 2016 Russia's population is expected to fall by 20 million people and -- if the trend is not halted -- the country's population will constitute some 70 million people in 2050. Today, the country's population stands at around 145 million people. Zayonchkovskaya emphasized that Russian society has to be more welcoming to migrants from CIS countries as they will "make up the bulk of the country's industrial labor force." Sergei Gradirovskii, the chief adviser to the Russian presidential envoy in the Volga Federal District, also suggested respecting the culture and traditions of the 5.5 million migrants who have come to live in Russia during the last decade. Zayonchkovskaya said that migration levels are falling because of strict migrant legislation and the unfriendly attitude of native residents to the newcomers.

Sabantuy To Be Held On Its Traditional Date
The major celebrations of Tatarstan's Sabantuy holiday will be held on 21 June, despite the Russian government's decree that it would be a work day in order to compensate for an extra day's holiday allocated for 13 June -- the day after Russia's independence day holiday (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 June 2003), RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 9 June. Under the Tatar government's resolution adopted on 6 June, the work day will be shifted from 21 June to 28 June. In the last decade Tatarstan has traditionally held the main Sabantuy celebrations on the third Saturday in June. This year, a presidential decree overlooked the fact that the day, despite being a Saturday, had already been claimed by the federal government.

Tatarstan To Assist Tatar Expat Communities In Preserving Their Culture
On 9 June, the Tatar Cabinet of Ministers discussed the republic's program for cultural development in 2004-2007, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The program outlines "state support to professional and amateur art, preservation of historical sites, and the promotion of the republic in the world." According to a special provision in the Tatar Constitution, the republic will provide material assistance for promoting the culture, traditions, and languages of Tatar communities outside the republic.

Kazan Brewery Prepares To Tap Siberian Markets
The Kazan-based Krasnii Vostok beer company has completed the construction of its first brewery outside Tatarstan, Tatar media reported on 9 June. The company has invested some $120 million in the brewery in Novosibirsk, Siberia, in order to tap the Siberian and far eastern markets.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Gazprom Denies Any Possible Involvement In Bashkir Presidential Elections...
Aleksandr Krasnenkov, head of the Gazprom monopoly's department of property management and corporate affairs, told a press conference in Ufa on 9 June that Gazprom does not intend to interfere in Bashkortostan's upcoming presidential elections, Rosbalt reported the same day. He emphasized that the company will not support any of the potential candidates, "preferring to stay outside politics." According to previous reports Sergei Veremeenko, manager of Russia's International Industrial Bank (MezhPromBank), whose elder brother Aleksandr Veremeenko heads Gazprom's branch in Bashkortostan, Bashtransgaz, is likely to join the race for the republic's presidency (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 May, 2 June 2003).

...Wants To Take Over A Number Of Bashkir Petrochemical Industries
Krasnenkov told the same press conference that Gazprom intends to take over the controlling shares of Salavatorgsintez, Kaustik, Kauchuk, and the Gaz-servis companies, all Bashkir petrochemical industries dealing with the management of gas supplies, Rosbalt reported. The Bashkir government reportedly agreed to seal the deal during the next meeting between President Murtaza Rakhimov and Gazprom head Aleksei Miller in Moscow.

Gazprom Official Accuses Bashkir Government Of Inflating Retail Gas Prices�
Aleksandr Veremeenko, general director of the Bashtransgaz company, told the aforementioned press conference in Ufa that the "Bashkir authorities create an image of Gazprom as an enemy without any grounding," Rosbalt reported. He said that the government referred to Gazprom when setting the "impudently" high consumer prices for gas. Veremeenko also said that "Gazprom delivers gas to the republic in accordance with the resolution of the Federal Energy Commission at a price of 680 rubles [$22.14] per ton, while the Bashkir government resells the gas at 1,772 rubles per ton." He added that "Bashkortostan's population does not possess the complete information on this and tends to blame Gazprom," while the company isn't the one setting the prices.

...And Claims To Know Names Of Those Who Attempted To Assassinate Him
Veremeenko also noted that he has "learned the names" of those who attempted to assassinate him by setting a booby trap using five hand grenades at the gates of his house in the Ufa suburbs on 13 May. He said that "we have undertaken our own investigation" but declined to mention those suspected in the attack. Previously Bashtransgaz officials had told reporters that the plot was motivated by the political activities of Veremeenko, who disputed the results of the March vote for the Bashkir State Assembly in the Yermolaevskii electoral district, where he was denied registration.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi