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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 16, 2003

16 July 2003
Tatarstan Seeks To Diversify And Expand Cooperation With Germany
Meeting with German Ambassador to Russia Friedrich von Pletz on 15 July, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said that "if we review the amount of cooperation between Germany and Russia, in my opinion, Tatarstan's share is not sufficient," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. He explained the dwindling cooperation by Tatarstan's failure to overcome the domination of oil products in its exports to Germany. According to Tatarstan's Ministry of Trade and Economic Cooperation, Germany was the republic's number one foreign trade partner in 1995-2000. In 2001, it moved to second place and, in 2002, to third place. In 2003, mutual trade reached $276.7 million, which was 32.5 percent lower than in the previous year. Shaimiev said that Tatarstan intends to use its potential in the machine industry and oil processing to boost the bilateral cooperation.

Muslim Leader Pledges Support For Putin's Policies
Rawyl Gaynetdin, chairman of the Moscow-based Council of Russian Muftis and the head of the Muslim Religious Board of the European part of Russia, issued a public statement on 15 July pledging support for the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the council's press service reported the same day. Gaynetdin praised a 15 July statement of the Russian leader, who spoke of the need to consolidate Russian society and promote an "integrated vision of Russia's development perspectives."

Expectations Of Rich Harvest Dimmed By Bad Weather
According to Tatar-inform on 15 July, the Tatar Agriculture Minister Tahir Khadiev said that in 2003 Tatarstan will gather as much grain as the previous year. In 2002, the republic's farmers set a new record of production by producing 6 million tons of grain. However, Khadiev noted that due to July's cold weather, the grain will ripen in August, two weeks later than usual. This will mean shorter workdays for the harvesters because of later morning dews and earlier dews in the evening. The farmers will also need special equipment to extract cereals, which have been hammered deep into the ground by the frequent summer rains.

KamAZ Denies Reports About Second Missing Executive...
The security service of the KamAZ automotive concern on 15 July denied allegations that another top manager had been kidnapped, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. According to Efir TV on 15 July, the Tatar Interior Ministry has already detained members of the criminal group responsible for the kidnappings of Viktor Faber, the deputy general director of the company and head of the KamAZ-Metallurgiya enterprise, and Natalya Starodubtseva, the head of KamAZ-Metallurgiya's finance department, in June.

...And Re-elects Klebanov As Board Of Directors Chairman
A meeting of KamAZ shareholders in Moscow on 15 July re-elected the Russian Minister of Industry, Science, and Technologies Ilya Klebanov as the concern's chairman of the board of directors, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tax Minister Issues Official Complaint On Pressure From Bashkir Authorities
Bashkir Tax Minister Aleksandr Veremeenko filed a complaint with the republican Prosecutor's Office and the federal Prosecutor-General's Office, objecting to the pressure of Bashkir authorities who opposed his recent appointment, reported on 15 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 July 2003). According to the agency, soon after Veremeenko's appointment the Tax Ministry's office experienced a water cutoff on 4 July and on 9 July fire inspectors halted the ministry's work even though the previous day's checkup failed to find any violations of fire safety in the building. A 10 July inspection by Bashenergonadzor to monitor compliance with technical regulations on electricity networks also failed to discover any violations besides the unauthorized presence of an electric light in the guard's cabin. Following the Bashkir parliament's 11 July session, which approved an appeal to President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov demanding Veremeenko's dismissal, on 12 July Bashenergonadzor cut off electricity supplies to the Tax Ministry's building, thus freezing the process of tax collection across the entire republic.

Weekly Cites Environmental Violations At Yumaguzin Water Reserve
The construction of the Yumaguzin water reserve on the Belaya (Agidel) River in Bashkortostan is being completed despite protests from the public and environmentalists, "Delovoi vtornik" weekly wrote on 15 July. The weekly wrote that the project had been cancelled due to the environmental and economic concerns in the late 1980s, but was reactivated in the late 1990s despite being potentially harmful for the Bashkiriya nature reserve nearby. According to the paper, the federal Ministry of Natural Resources opposes the dam, which is located on unstable geological layers and near petrochemical industry centers. Nevertheless the ministry's requests for investigation by the republican Prosecutor's Office are not being acted on.

Bashkortostan Tatar Congress Leader Thanks Rakhimov For Organizing Tatar Forum
Eduard Khemitov, Executive Committee chairman of the Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan, on 15 July addressed a letter to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov expressing gratitude for his support for the 5 July forum of local Tatar communities and for the recent presidential decree on extra measures for developing Tatar culture and education in the Bashkir Republic. Khemitov praised the humanistic and efficient ethnic policies conducted in Bashkortostan, wishing Rakhimov success in his further work "for the good of Bashkortostan's peoples." The 5 July congress was widely criticized for not including Tatar rights organizations from Bashkortostan or representatives of the World Tatar Congress.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi