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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 5, 2003

5 August 2003
Top Russian, International Dignitaries Send Greetings To Volga Route Forum
Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Tatar counterpart Mintimer Shaimiev, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura, Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer, and Ekmeleddin Ikhsanoglu, the secretary-general for the Research Center for Islamic History, Art, and Culture, sent their greetings to "The Great Volga Route" conference that began on 4 August in Astrakhan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 August 2003), reported the same day. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Astrakhan Oblast Governor Anatolii Guzhvin said, "Russia has not had any clear policy as regards the Caspian Sea in the last five or six years" and that "the mission of the to contribute to the mutual understanding between countries and peoples and the Caspian Sea remaining a region of peace." Guzhvin added that three new terminals to store grain, containers, and oil will be constructed in Astrakhan under the program for developing the new north-south transport corridor. Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnyi and Russian Deputy Transport Minister Nikolai Smirnov were also in attendance. The same day, Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov and Astrakhan Mayor Igor Bezrukavnikov signed a cooperation agreement. The two officials also signed a protocol on cooperation between Great Volga Route cities, which the mayors of Makhachkala, Daghestan, Baku, Azerbaijan, and Aktau, Kazakhstan are also scheduled to sign.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim Chooses Partners For Polypropylene Production
The Nizhnekamskneftekhim petrochemical company announced that it will create a plant capable of producing 120,000 tons of polypropylene a year by 2006, "Vedomosti" reported on 4 August. The company plans to attract credits to pay for the $125 million project. Late last week, Nizhnekamskneftekhim signed a trilateral memorandum on the construction of the plant with the Italian companies Basell and Tecnimont. Basell -- a joint BASF and Shell venture -- is scheduled to supply the Tatar company with a license for the production of polypropylene, while Tecnimont is responsible for delivering equipment, and beginning and monitoring the operations. According to the daily, the Japanese Mitsui company was a major competitor of Basell and Tecnimont in the tender. Nizhnekamskneftekhim, one of the largest petrochemical facilities in Eastern Europe, made a net profit of 2.1 billion rubles ($69.2 million) in 2002. The Tatar government owns a 35 percent stake in the company.

Shaimiev Honored For Promoting Aviation Production
On 4 August, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev was given a gold medal and honorary diploma of the Interstate Aviation Committee for his "outstanding contribution to the development of aviation," reported the same day. The committee, established in December 1991, unites 14 post-Soviet states with the aim of securing the safe and efficient development of civil aviation. Shaimiev was honored for his personal contribution to the development of Tatarstan's aviation industry, which created the Tu-204-200, Tu-214, Tu-324, and Tu-330 jets and Mi-17 and Ansat helicopters. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Uzbek President Islam Karimov, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma are former recipients of the award.

Chally Mayor Dies
Reshit Khemediev, 56, the mayor of Tatarstan's second-largest city Chally, died of a heart attack on 3 August, Tatar news agencies reported. On 4 August, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov attended his civil funeral. Shaimiev said Khemediev took over Chally in "the hardest times," when the city "was a clot of dissatisfaction and concentration of unsolvable problems."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Prosecutors Open Criminal Investigation On Tax Ministry Power Outages
Ufa's Soviet Raion prosecutor's office on 1 August began an investigation into the electricity outages in the Bashkir Tax Ministry's offices in Ufa (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 July 2003), reported on 4 August. The ministry appealed six times to the Bashkir Prosecutor's Office and once to the Russian Federal Security Service's Bashkir office to protest illegal stoppages of electricity and running water and illegal actions by the State Fire-Prevention Service and the Energy-Supervision Service. The ministry estimates preliminary damages from the stoppages at 5.4 million rubles, while the final sum will be determined after electricity is restored.

Zhirinovskii: LDPR Candidate To Run For Bashkir Presidency
Visiting Ufa on 3 August, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii said he has "cool" relations with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, adding that the LDPR will nominate a candidate in the December Bashkir presidential elections. Zhirinovskii also said that he does not consider the requirement for candidates for the Bashkir presidency to speak Bashkir obligatory. "Russia will be here forever," he said.

Zhirinovskii also spoke in favor of creating 21 governorates in Russia by dividing the seven federal districts into three parts each. "Governors should be appointed since elections are expensive and criminals and the mafia take part in them, while only the president and State Duma deputies should be elected," he said. Regions should not be divided into donors and those receiving subsidies since the "population is not guilty of the lack of oil, gas, or fish on its territory." Zhirinovskii called for providing maximum powers for regions but only after the introduction of capital punishment for secession from Russia. The "sovereignty" concept should be forgotten, he said, adding that, "it was concocted by Marxists as regards colonial countries."

Commenting on the Bashkir presidential elections, Zhirinovskii said that even if State Duma Deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov, who has announced his intention to run, gives up on the idea and runs for mayor of Moscow, the LDPR will nominate another candidate. He also expressed his hope that his party will receive 45 percent of the vote in the State Duma elections in Bashkortostan, as "Tatars, Bashkirs, and Russians -- all love [him]."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova