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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 25, 2003

25 August 2003
Mukhametshin Elected To Lead Unified Russia In Tatarstan
The 24 August conference of Unified Russia's branch in Tatarstan accepted the early retirement of its leader, Kazan Energy Industry Institute rector Yurii Nazmeev, and elected State Council Chairman and Tatarstan-Yanga Gasyr movement head Farid Mukhametshin to replace him, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. After being appointed, Mukhametshin told the conference that he would convince those who voted against him "with my deeds, not with my words."

Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said at the same event that it reflected the political union of Unified Russia and Yanga Gasyr rather than a merger. He said the party needed to win a majority in the December State Duma elections in order to prevent the Communists from reversing the results of privatization and nationalizing private industries.

Chally Kidnapping Victims Still Missing
Chally city prosecutor Ildus Nafikov said on 23 August that investigators have so far detained 18 suspects in the kidnapping cases of KamAZ-Metallurgiya General Director Viktor Faber, KamAZ-Metallurgiya's chief economist Natalya Starodubtseva, and businessman Bulat Bayazitov, Intertat reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 6 June, 18 and 21 July, and 7 August 2003). He confirmed that 15 more suspects are being sought, while the investigators recently discovered 17 more suspects in the case. Nafikov said that the kidnappings were organized by the "29 kompleks" criminal group and its subdivision, the "Tagiryanovskie" gang. "There is still hope that many of those missing are alive," he said. Nafikov added that the day after Faber's kidnapping, KamAZ-Metallurgiya transferred 10 million rubles ($330,000) to the accounts of some nonexistent firms in Sodbisnesbank in Moscow. Some of the money was reportedly withdrawn before investigators had frozen the accounts.

Gazprom Executives Open Junction In Kazan, Without Miller
Top managers from the Gazprom gas monopoly, including construction and transport department head Mikhail Akselrod, transportation, storage, and use department head Bogdan Budzulak, and regional affairs department head Viktor Ilyushin, arrived in Kazan on 23 August to attend the opening ceremony of a junction station between Urengoi-Uzhgorod and Kazan-Nizhnii Novgorod gas pipelines, which signified the completion of Tatarstan's gas-network-construction program and ensures stable gas supplies to the neighboring Chuvash Republic and Ulyanovsk Oblast.

Tatar President Shaimiev, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, and other top republican officials attended the ceremony. Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller had been scheduled to attend, but didn't. Tatar media had speculated that sides intended to discuss the amount and cost of gas to be supplied to the republic in 2004.

Cummins Maintains Interest In Cooperating With KamAZ
A delegation from the U.S. Cummins company, which specializes in diesel engines, visited the KamAZ automaker on 23 August to discuss possible cooperation with the company's engine-building workshops, Kama-Press reported the same day. According to KamAZ's press service, Cummins had opened a joint Kamdizel diesel-engine factory in 1991 but the engines turned out not to suit the heavy conditions of Russian roads and the venture was buried by the 1998 financial crisis, Intertat reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Communist Deputy Cites Legal Violations In Privatization Of State Property...
The Russian State Duma deputy representing Bashkortostan, Valentin Nikitin (Communist), told Rosbalt on 23 August that the republic's state-owned industries "are being sold parliamentary deputies and the public remain unaware who, on what conditions, and for how much the state, that is the people's property, is being sold [for]." He referred to some cases when the Bashkir Property Affairs Ministry "underestimated" the actual price of state ventures undergoing privatization. Nikitin used the example of the Karlaman sugar plant, which was sold to a St. Petersburg-based firm for $500,000 and later resold for some $33 million. The deputy said that he would demand official comments from the Bashkir Property Affairs Ministry on each of the dubious privatization cases.

...Says That Votes Will Be Hard Won
Nikitin also told Rosbalt that the Bashkir Communists will put forward candidates in each of the six voting districts in the republic during this year's elections for the Russian State Duma. Eight Communist candidates will reportedly seek election, partially in the single-mandate districts and partially according to the party lists. He noted that his party "would manage" to gather the 10,000 people necessary for sending observers to monitor the elections

Presidential Staff Official Inspects Situation In Bashkortostan Before Elections
Dmitrii Panin, head of the State Duma affairs department of the Russian presidential staff, arrived in Ufa on 24 August, Rosbalt reported the same day. During his three-day visit Panin will meet republican government officials, members of the Central Election Commission, and leaders of political parties in Bashkortostan.

Daily: UralSib Prepares For Sell-Off
The UralSib bank of Bashkortostan will be sold to a major foreign bank, the "Kommersant" daily suggested on 22 August. The daily reported that the NIKoil corporation has recently begun a retail cost assessment of the eighth major bank in Russia, which is said to be "in the interests of a major foreign investor." "Kommersant" cited an unnamed banking expert, who said that of all foreign banks operating in Russia, the British-based HSBC could possibly be interested in taking over a big financial institution with numerous affiliates across the country.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi