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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 8, 2003

8 September 2003
Tatarstan Celebrates 60th Anniversary Of Oil Extraction
President Mintimer Shaimiev visited Elmet on 6 September to attend celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the installation of the first oil well in Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The president, state officials, and representatives of oil companies, viewed an exhibition detailing the development of the Tatar oil industry. Currently, Tatarstan's annual oil output is reportedly 30 million tons, with more than 24 million tons extracted by Tatneft and more than 5 million tons by minor oil companies. In the 1970s and 1980s, Tatarstan annually produced some 100 million tons of oil. In its 60-year history the Tatar oil industry has produced more than 2.7 billion tons of oil. On 6 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message to oil industry workers in Tatarstan, outlining the importance of Tatar oil to Russia's economic might.

Tatar Delegation Promotes Tatar TV and Radio In Ivanovo
A World Tatar Congress delegation, which met with Ivanovo Oblast Governor Vladimir Tikhonov on 6 September, expressed gratitude for the governor's support of the local Tatar community, reported the next day. The delegation suggested that Ivanovo could become the first region in the "golden ring" -- the central part of Russia -- to introduce Tatar-language programming on local television and radio. Tikhonov explained that his oblast did not have its own TV and radio and had to buy airtime from the national TV and radio stations. The governor also noted that, up until now, he had received no reports about violations of Tatar rights in Ivanovo, which has a 3,000-strong Tatar community and a newly opened mosque.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Former LUKoil Vice President Joins Bashkir Presidential Race...
Relif Safin, a deputy in the Federation Council representing the Altai Republic and former LUKoil vice president, said on 5 September that he will run for the Bashkir presidency, RosBalt reported the same day. Safin told a press conference that he will officially begin his campaign as soon as the Bashkir parliament fixes the date of the elections. Safin repeated his statement on 7 September in the Bawly Raion, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 8 September. Safin said neither LUKoil nor any other corporations are backing his campaign. He said that he enjoys support from seven parties that signed a memorandum on fair elections in Bashkortostan, which include the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, the Union of Rightist Forces, the Communist Party, and Yabloko. Safin said that incumbent President Murtaza Rakhimov was a person who "has done very much for Bashkortostan." The Federation Council deputy also said he does not plan any revision of what has been done in the republic and said that he does not plan any alliances with either Rakhimov or another possible rival in the presidential race, former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko.

Safin, a 49-year-old ethnic Tatar, was born in Bashkortostan's Ilesh Raion and graduated from the Ufa Oil Institute in 1975. In 1993, he was elected first vice president of LUKoil. In June 2002, Safin was elected to the Federation Council.

The presidential elections are expected to take place on 7 December (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5 September 2003).

...As Controversy Around Presidential Election Date Arises
Ildar Isengulov, Beloretsk city council deputy and a member of the local branch of the Yabloko party, appealed to the Bashkir Supreme Court against the law by which the Bashkir parliament extended President Rakhimov's term in office, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 5 September. Isengulov argued that under the Bashkir Constitution, the legislature can not extend the presidential term and demanded that the election date be brought forward to 2 November. Rakhimov's term expired in June. The daily cited State Assembly deputy Zofer Yenikeev as saying that the federal law on electoral rights allows such extensions for up to a year in order to hold regional elections in parallel with federal ones. The Bashkir Electoral Code also allows for the extension of the presidential term, Yenikeev added. The appeal hearing is to start on 8 September.

UralSib Targeted In Phony Leaflet Campaign
Bashinform published on 5 September an appeal by the UralSib bank to its clients asking them to ignore leaflets, which were spread around the republic that day, calling for them to close their accounts with the bank. The phony leaflets were made to look as if they were from the bank's press service. In the appeal, the bank's management said neither the press service nor any other department had prepared and distributed any leaflets in the republic and the information was a "bare-faced lie." UralSib has been the victim of an attack by a Moscow oligarchic group that is waging a dirty and slanderous war, the appeal read. UralSib is the seventh-largest Russian bank with a capital of 7.6 billion rubles ($248 million). The Bashkir government, which holds a 37.5 percent stake in the bank, is its major shareholder.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova