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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 1, 2003

1 August 2003
Government Promotes Development Of Oil Refining
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 31 July that to maintain the profitability of oil production in the republic, it is necessary to increase the quality of boring and invest more in developing new technologies to increase the productivity of deposits, reported the same day. Shaimiev's comments came at a meeting devoted to the development of the republic's oil sector in the Alabuga region. Shaimiev also called for the development of oil refining in the republic, "otherwise we will find ourselves in bondage." Shaimiev said that the current rules regulating the use of oil pipelines in Russia do not allow the full loading of the Kremenchug refinery, a Ukraine-based plant controlled by Tatarstan. So, he said, the republic will promote the alternative transportation of oil by water or rail. Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov told the same meeting that his company has produced 12.2 million tons of oil so far this year, while the production of the republic's small oil companies totaled 2.1 million tons. Tatneft has not managed to fully adjust to increasing production costs in the first six months of the year, Takhawetdinov said, adding that in the past 18 months, Tatneft's tax burden had grown by 7 billion rubles ($230 million).

Tatarstan, Kemerovo Oblast Outline Cooperation Plans
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and Kemerovo Oblast Deputy Governor Valentin Mazikin signed on 31 July a protocol on the implementation of a bilateral agreement between the two entities, Tatar-inform and reported the same day. The document promotes the development of cooperation in the machine construction, energy, construction, gas, petrochemical, and agricultural sectors. Both sides agreed to develop joint projects with the automotive concern KamAZ in order to reequip buses from the Kemerovo Oblast with gas engines.

Mother Of Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Uneasy About Son's Possible Extradition To Russia
Emine Khesenova, the mother of Chally resident Airat Wakhitov, who is being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 30 July that she is anxious about the possibility of her son being extradited to Russia and being imprisoned there. Khesenova was commenting on a report about negotiations that have started between Russia and the United States on Wakhitov's possible extradition. Wakhitov is suspected of having collaborated with the Taliban during U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan in 2001 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report, 5 June 2002 and 3 December 2002). Khesenova said that disease, violence, and cruelty are rampant in Russian prisons and that it would be better for her son to die than go to a Russian prison. Previously, Wakhitov sent a letter to his parents, in which he said, "the prison here [in Guantanamo] is better than a Russian health resort" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 December 2002).

Meanwhile, speaking to an RFE/RL North Caucasus Languages Services correspondent on 30 July, Nina Adizheva, the mother of another Guantanamo Bay prisoner, appealed to the U.S. leadership not to extradite her son Anzor and to instead grant him political asylum, saying otherwise he will be subject to persecution in Russia.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Gazprom Delegation Visits Ufa
A Gazprom delegation headed by Aleksandr Ryazanov, the deputy chairman of the board, arrived in Bashkortostan on 31 July to negotiate the implementation of a cooperation agreement with the republic signed on 19 June, Russian agencies reported. Speaking at the Ufa airport on his arrival, Ryazanov said the delegation aims "to discuss in more detail...the development of the Salavatnefteorgsintez [petrochemical] company for the next [few] years, as well as the activities of the republic's other oil refineries." The same day, the issue topped the agenda of a meeting between the delegation, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, and heads of the republic's petrochemical companies. According to the agreement, Gazprom will secure gas deliveries to the region, while the Bashkir government will help Gazprom obtain state-owned stakes in Bashkir chemical companies including Salavatnefteorgsintez, Kauchuk, Kaustik, and GazServis.

Liberal Democratic Deputy Says His Participation In Bashkir Presidential Race Agreed With Moscow...
State Duma Deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) announced on 31 July that he plans to compete with incumbent President Rakhimov in December presidential elections, Russian agencies reported. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Mitrofanov said that his decision to run was agreed with "forces in Moscow" and has been sanctioned by the Kremlin, "which will not endure feudalism in Bashkortostan," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 1 August. Mitrofanov said that he has begun studying Bashkir and Tatar as he considers that "a leader should know not only language but [understand] the traditions and culture of the people."

...As Bashkir Politicians Skeptical About His Chances
Marat Yamalov, the head of the information department of the Bashkir presidential administration, said on 31 July that the administration is not taking Mitrofanov's statements seriously, RosBalt reported. Yamalov predicted that candidates like Mitrofanov will receive trifling percentages in the polls. He noted, however, that "Mitrofanov's speeches have been watched in the republic for a long time and tactless and sharp statements regarding Bashkortostan are remembered." "Even LDPR [Liberal Democratic Party of Russia] leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii is more cautious in his estimations," Yamalov added.

Valentin Nikitin, the leader of the Bashkir branch of the Communist Party, said on 31 July that Mitrofanov does not have any chance of winning the presidency, RosBalt reported the same day. Nikitin said that a presidential candidate should have some ideas, instead of just being in opposition. Nikitin agreed that the situation needs to be changed in the republic where, he said, autocratic rule has been established and democratic reforms have been hindered. But the communist leader noted that the republic has internal reserves that can improve the situation.

Ismegyil Gabitov, the leader of the Unified Russia party in Bashkortostan, said on 31 July that Mitrofanov has no chance of winning the presidency as he is almost unknown in the republic. Gabitov commented that only a republic native, with practical experience, experience of the industrial sector, who is able to double gross domestic product at the request of the Russian president, would have a chance of victory in Bashkortostan. There is no adequate alternative to the incumbent in the republic, Gabitov said, adding, "if Murtaza Rakhimov stands for the third term, the party will back him."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova