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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 1, 2003

1 July 2003
Shaimiev Says Party Membership Is Essential For Officials
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told reporters on 28 June in Moscow that "the time of parties has come" and "officials of any level cannot now avoid party membership." Shaimiev made his comment following a meeting of Unified Russia supporters the same day in Moscow. Shaimiev, who is co-chairman of the Unified Russia Supreme Council, said that in Tatarstan, Unified Russia dominates and enjoys support from the people. Shaimiev said that in order to obtain superiority over the Communist Party in elections, Unified Russia must promote a policy attractive for all segments of the population together with market reforms.

Ak Bars Bank Plans To Join EBRD Project
Robert Musin, the chairman of the Observation Council of Ak Bars Bank, told a shareholders' meeting on 30 June that shareholders will consider selling off all of the state's shares in the bank and allowing the republic's leading companies to become shareholders, reported the same day. The measures are required for the bank to take part in a program of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Musin said. The bank plans to establish a finance group uniting nonstate pension funds and an insurance company and to open some 20-30 affiliates outside the republic, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. The chairman of the bank's board, Robert Minnegaliev, told the meeting that the bank's assets grew in 2002 by 2.7 billion rubles ($89 million) to 15 billion rubles, while its credit portfolio reached 8.6 billion rubles. The Ak Bars holding company possesses 20 percent of the bank's shares; the Tatar Land and Property Relations Ministry, 16 percent; the Kazan Committee on Managing Municipal Property, 6 percent; the Tatneft oil company, 18 percent; the Tatar-American Investments and Finances company, 5 percent, and Nizhnekamskneftekhim, 5 percent.

Unemployment Growing In Tatarstan
The unemployment rate in Tatarstan, which totaled 27,000 in early May, is expected to reach 32,000 by the end of the year, "Parlamentskaya gazeta" reported on 1 July. Some 10,000 employees -- around one in five -- are to be dismissed this current year in the republic's oil sector, up to 5,000 in the engineering sector, and more than 7,000 at the KamAZ automotive concern. In 2002, the republic's large companies dismissed 12,000 workers, while this current year that figure is to double, the publication reported and explained the trend by the recession in industrial production. Meanwhile, 400 million rubles ($13.2 million) were set aside in 2002 from the federal and republican budgets for employment programs and welfare benefits.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Authorities Accuse Tatar Public Center Of Extremist Activity
The Russian Justice Ministry's Chief Bashkir Directorate has issued a warning to Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center (TIU) referring to the federal law on counteracting extremist activity, RosBalt reported on 30 June. TIU Chairman Airat Gyinietullin told the news agency the same day that the warning came in response to the organization's 1 June appeal to Bashkir residents, which referred to the "pro-Bashkir nature of national policy" in the republic and called for the introduction of proportional quotas in governing bodies for representatives of different nationalities. The directorate commented that "the document is aimed at destabilizing the social and political situation" in Bashkortostan and "could rouse interethnic discord." The directorate said that if the TIU again violates the law, it could be disbanded by a court ruling.

Rakhimov Discusses Business Projects With UNIDO Head, Austrian Companies
During his visit to Austria on 25-28 June, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with the heads of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Bashinform reported on 30 June. Officials discussed the prospects of the republic's cooperation with UNIDO and the role of Bashkir-Austrian relations in the development of Russian-Austrian relations. Rakhimov met with UNIDO Director General Carlos Magarinos and discussed a UNIDO project on increasing Bashkortostan's industrial potential and competitiveness on the world market. They also signed amendments to the cooperation agreement between UNIDO and Bashkortostan for the period of 2003-2005. Magarinos said that Bashkortostan was "a reliable business partner" and that the cooperation had been fruitful. Rakhimov also held discussions with the senior management of the Siemens Austria company about the possibility of a joint communications project with Bashinformsvyaz, the republic's major communications company.

Relatives Of Midair Collision Victims Dissatisfied With Slow Pace Of Investigation
Relatives of the victims of the 1 July 2002 midair collision over southern Germany appealed recently to Russian President Vladimir Putin to complain that those responsible for the collision had still not been named, the "Trud" newspaper reported on 1 July. Parents of the Bashkir children that lost their lives in the collision wrote that the refusal of the Swiss and German governments to hold negotiations with lawyers of the victims' relatives is a direct insult to the victims' memory. Relatives of the victims said nobody had consulted them on the question of compensation and that they only knew about the establishment of a $50 million fund only from media reports. The newspaper cited unofficial reports that only 130,000 rubles ($4,300) have been paid so far for each victim of the crash. Meanwhile, a delegation of relatives, headed by Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov, left on 30 June for Germany at the invitation of Baden-Wuerttemberg Prime Minister Erwin Teufel to take part in ceremonies marking the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova