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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 23, 2003

23 July 2003
Tatar Delegation Visits South Korea
A delegation headed by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov left on 22 July for a four-day visit to South Korea, Tatar-inform and reported the same day, citing the press service of the Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Ministry. The aim of the visit is to develop links between Tatar companies and LG International Corp., a South Korean-based trading and investment company. The delegation, including the Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov, Tuben Kama Mayor Ilsur Metshin, Nizhnekamskneftekhim General Director Vladimir Busygin, Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov, and others, is scheduled to meet with the senior management of LG International to further cooperation in the petrochemical sector, to develop small businesses, and to attract investments in the republic's economy.

Potential Buyers Of Tatar Helicopters Gather In Kazan
Representatives of aviation companies from 20 countries, including Hungary, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, and South Korea, are meeting in Kazan to view helicopters produced by the Kazan Helicopter Plant, which will open on 23 July, Tatar-inform reported. The plant's suppliers will also attend the meeting. Currently, the Kazan Helicopter Plant is working on the modernization of the Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters and on the development of new models -- Ansat, Aqtai, and Mi-38.

Ten Percent Of Automobile Owners Obtain Obligatory Insurance Certificates
Islam Gellemov, the deputy head of the Tatar Interior Ministry's Traffic Security Inspection Directorate, told a briefing of the cabinet of ministers on 22 July that some 10 percent of automobile owners in the republic have obtained obligatory insurance certificates after a federal law came into force on 1 July. Currently, 650,000 automobiles are in use in Tatarstan, including 350,000 cars. Tatar insurance companies Rosgosstrakh-Tatarstan, Itil, ASKO-Tatarstan, and NASKO-Tatarstan obtained licenses for issuing the insurance certificates and an additional 20 Moscow companies are also involved. The basic yearly insurance premium for car owners is between 1,980 rubles and 2,375 rubles ($65-$78).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Will Privatization Of Bashkir Oil Sector Be Annulled?
The Russian Audit Chamber announced on 22 July the results of an audit of the privatization of Bashkir oil and oil-refining companies which revealed that controlling interests in Bashneft and five other Bashkir petrochemical companies with a total annual turnover of $1.5 billion have been taken over by seven private companies, Russian media reported. Audit Chamber auditor Vladislav Ignatov told a press conference that "this is the most unprecedented case of theft of assets from federal property in the history of Russian oil refineries," resulting in losses of $118 million for the budget.

The privatization was conducted through decrees by President Murtaza Rakhimov in violation of federal legislation, according to which state-owned 38 percent stakes in companies are to remain federal property. Instead, they were transferred once to the republic and then became private property. Initially, shares of major oil and oil-processing companies were passed to the capital of the Bashneftekhim, headed by the president's son, Ural Rakhimov. Bashneftekhim and Bashneft, both fully owned by the republic, formed the Bashkir Fuel Company, shares of which were then passed to seven private oil-processing companies affiliated with each other. In turn, shares of those companies were intended to be passed to the Bashkirskii Kapital joint-stock company.

In addition, Ignatov said, Bashkir oil and oil-processing companies evaded transferring to the federal budget either $113 million in shares or paying that sum in taxes. As a result, he said, both federal and republican budgets were deprived of dividends, while taxes were also not paid as part of the "Baikonur schemes" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 February, 13 and 20 March, 26 May, 6 June, and 17 and 18 July 2003, "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 March 2003).

Ignatov said the Audit Chamber will inform the Russian president and prime minister of the audit results and send documents to the Prosecutor-General's Office. He said the revealed violations "make it possible to doubt the entire scheme of privatization."

Ufa May Return To Old Constitution
The Bashkir State Assembly will make an attempt to return back to the republic's previous constitution, which was in force until 3 December, State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev told RosBalt on 21 July. Tolkachev said the move became possible after the ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court that prohibited nonconstitutional courts to consider suits related to regional constitutions and charters. The new version of the Bashkir Constitution was adopted on 3 December after the Bashkir Supreme Court contested several dozen articles in the previous one, specifically, those including concepts of "sovereignty" and "republican citizenship." Now, Tolkachev said, a reverse process may start, adding that the parliament will appeal to the Constitutional Court to restore provisions of the Bashkir Constitution annulled by the Bashkir Supreme Court. He promoted inclusion of the "sovereignty" concept in the republican constitution, adding that federal authorities should not be monopolist in its use.

Bashkir Interior Employees Released From Chechen Captivity
A police officer from Bashkortostan's Burzyan Raion, Oleg Galiev, was released from captivity in a special operation by the Bashkir Interior Ministry in Chechnya's Achkhoi-Martan Raion, RosBalt reported on 22 July, citing the ministry's press service. Galiev, who served in the Achkhoi-Martan Raion, was captured on 3 June together with two other officers. Bashkir Interior Minister Rafael Divaev and Criminal Investigation Directorate head Khemze Khamratov took part in the operation during which GAliyev was exchanged for a Chechen fighter. The other two police officers were killed. On 21 July, GAliyev returned to Burzyan Raion.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova