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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 19, 2003

19 June 2003
Appeal By Tatar, Bashkir Legislators To Constitutional Court Finds Support In Federal Bodies
Federal authorities backed an appeal to the Russian Constitutional Court by the Tatar and Bashkir parliaments, in which legislators opposed prosecutors' bodies meddling in the constitutions and charters of federation subjects (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 17 June 2003), "Nezavisimaya gazeta," and "Vremya MN" reported on 18 June. During a hearing on the appeal in the Constitutional Court on 17 June, Mikhail Mityukov, the Russian presidential envoy to the court, said regional constitutions and charters are not ordinary legal acts but have a special status and can be interpreted and evaluated only by the Constitutional Court, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. This is the position of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mityukov added. Sergei Popov, the State Duma representative to the Constitutional Court, and his counterpart from the Federation Council, senator Yurii Sharandin, also backed the appeal. The representative of the Russian government to the Russian Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, Mikhail Barshchevskii, told "Gazeta" on 18 June that "courts of general jurisdiction are not empowered to consider issues of conformity of federation subjects' constitutions as that is a power of the Constitutional Court." The court is expected to issue its verdict in July.

Tatneft Changes Auditor
Tatneft auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has recommended the oil company establishes an audit committee involving independent members to meet requirements by the U.S. Securities Commission (SEC) for foreign companies trading on U.S. exchanges, "Kommersant" reported on 18 June. If Tatneft rejects recommendations by PwC, its American Depositary Receipts (ADR) may be dropped from the listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the daily said. The SEC on 9 April informed exchange participants that they are to harmonize their charters by 15 July with amendments to the law on the personal responsibility of companies' management for their financial reports. The Tatneft leadership, however, disagreed with the PwC report and will discuss the possibility of replacing the auditor at its annual shareholders meeting slated for 27 June, according to "Kommersant."

KamAZ To Produce Wagons For Railway Ministry
Russian First Deputy Railways Minister Khasyan Zyabirov and Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov agreed that the automobile concern KamAZ will produce universal cargo wagons for the ministry, the "Vremya i dengi" daily reported on 18 June. Zyabirov said the ministry will order 2,000 wagons a year from the automotive concern. KamAZ will also produce 100,000 tons of spare parts for wagons each year. The sides agreed to form a working group by 1 July to coordinate their efforts.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Interior Ministry Raids Bashtransgaz Office...
The Bashkir Interior Ministry's Investigation Directorate and Anti-Economic Crimes Directorate on 18 June searched the offices of Gazprom's Bashkir branch, Bashtransgaz, "Izvestia" reported the next day. Some 20 employees of the ministry confiscated the company's accounting documents. The ministry produced a resolution on the search signed by First Deputy Bashkir Prosecutor Vladimir Korostylev, which refers to the fraud case involving a Mezhprombank promissory note (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12, 17, and 18 June 2003). Aleksandr Veremeenko, who headed Bashtransgaz until yesterday, served for 11 years as head of the Mezhprombank Ufa branch, while his brother Sergei until recently was Mezhprombank's managing director. Veremeenko told "Kommersant" on 19 June that the search is the "vengeance of Murtaza Rakhimov for the fact that Gazprom has not signed an agreement with Bashkortostan." A week ago, the Bashkir Interior Ministry searched the offices of the Mezhprombank Bashkir branch as part of the investigation into the same criminal case.

...As Gazprom Head Dismisses Its General Director
Gazprom head Aleksei Miller dismissed on 18 June Aleksandr Veremeenko, the general director of Gazprom's Bashkir branch Bashtransgaz, for "having his own policy," the "Vedomosti" daily reported the next day. Gazprom press secretary Sergei Kupriyanov said that the company leadership considers it necessary "to part with those who hold their own policy using the company's name as a cover."

Relatives Of Midair Collision Victims To Be Paid $50 Million In Compensation
$50 million will be transferred to a special fund to pay compensation to relatives of Russian citizens who died in the midair collision over southern Germany on 1 July 2002 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002), ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. The news agency cited an unnamed representative of the German Transport, Construction, and Housing Ministry as saying lawyers representing the interests of relatives of the crash victims agreed on that sum and initialed the agreement. The document is now to be discussed by the Swiss and German authorities and the company that insured the Swiss air traffic control service Skyguide, which guided the jets during the collision. The official registration of the fund is to be completed by the anniversary of the crash, the agency said. The collision between a Bashkir Airlines Tu-154 and a DHL cargo Boeing-757 killed 69 Russian citizens and the two DHL pilots.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova