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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 9, 2003

9 September 2003
Tatarstan's Budget Deficit To Rise To 3 Billion Rubles In 2004
Finance Minister Radik Giyzatullin told an expanded meeting of Tatarstan's cabinet on 8 September that in 2004 the republic's budget deficit will be around 3 billion rubles ($98 million), RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Seventy-one percent of budget expenditures are earmarked for welfare payments, healthcare, and education. In 2004, Tatarstan will receive some 11 billion rubles from the federal government for developing its economy; 2.2 billion of that money will be spent on reconstructing Kazan for the city's millennium anniversary celebrations in 2005.

State Council To Discuss Bringing Forward December 2004 Parliamentary Elections
The presidium of Tatarstan's State Council on 8 September considered the agenda of the council's plenary session, which is to be resumed on 11 September. At the session, deputies will discuss the possibility of moving the December 2004 State Council elections forward to March 2004 to coincide with elections for the Russian president. State Council chairman Farif Mukhametshin told reporters after the presidium meeting that holding two elections in the same year would be too expensive and tiring for the population.

Tatarstan Looks Into Latest Oil-Extraction Technologies
Speaking at an international symposium devoted to oil-extraction technologies on 8 September, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said that 67 percent of oil reserves prospected in Tatarstan consist of hard-to-extract deposits, while in Russia the average percentage of such deposits is between 55 percent and 60 percent, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. According to Minnikhanov, it is vital for Tatarstan to embrace new technologies, because with its current approach, the republic will not be able to maintain its annual output of some 29 million tons. Rinat Muslimov, a Tatar presidential advisor on the petrochemical industry, said in his report at the symposium the same day that Tatarstan possesses enough prospected oil reserves to last for the next 31 years and unprospected reserves that would last 80 years.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

UralSib Appeals To Court Against False Leaflets
The Ufa Soviet Raion court has filed a lawsuit on an appeal by the UralSib Bank against the distribution of false leaflets in Ufa (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 8 September 2003), "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 9 September. The leaflets, which were distributed across the republic on 5 September, said "rumors about the bank's bankruptcy had spread" in the mass media in the wake of "a conflict between the bank leadership and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the recovery from the bank of 12 billion rubles ($391 million) in concealed taxes" and "a criminal case filed against UralSib President Azat Qormanaev." The leaflet said the bank "is experiencing temporary troubles connected to the payment of underpaid taxes" and that all depositors "can take their money back any time" through 1 October. In his comments to the daily, UralSib press service head Sergei Lobanov called the case "PR-gangsterism." Bashkortostan's National Bank press service issued a statement on 8 September saying that "all of the republic's banks, including UralSib, are financially stable credit organizations." National Bank head Rostem Merdenov called the action "an act of terrorism" against UralSib. Merdenov, together with Qormanaev, spoke on local television the same day to ensure depositors that UralSib is financially stable. Lobanov said that about 10 depositors have thus far withdrawn their money from the bank.

Similar leaflets were distributed on 5 September in Novosibirsk, where UralSib has one of its biggest branches and where bank head Qormanaev, who is nephew of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov's wife, began his career, "Vedomosti" reported on 9 September. The head of UralSib's Novosibirsk office, Sergei Koblev, told the daily that the branch also appealed to prosecutor's bodies to file a criminal case on the action.

Swiss Official Wants Early Payment Of Compensation To Plane Crash Victims' Relatives
Swiss authorities hope that compensation to all of the families in Bashkortostan who lost children in the 1 July 2002 mid-air collision in southern Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002) will have been paid by the end of the year, Gian-Reto Plattner, the speaker of the Swiss Council of States (Senate), said in Moscow on 8 September, Russian agencies reported the same day. Plattner told reporters following his meeting with Russian Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov that it would be "inhuman" to wait for final conclusions by the commission investigating the crash before paying compensation to the relatives. Plattner also expressed his condolences and apologies on behalf of Swiss officials for their comments in the first days after the tragedy when the Swiss side denied any responsibility for the accident. Plattner added that the Swiss and German governments together with insurance companies and the Swiss air-traffic control service Skyguide, which is being faulted for the collision, has set up a special $50 million fund to make payments to the families of the victims. He said that "the establishment of the fund is not an admission of guilt but is an attempt to alleviate the suffering of the relatives of the victims."

LDPR Nominates FSB Colonel As Candidate In Bashkortostan's Presidential Race
The ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia nominated State Duma Deputy and Federal Security Service Colonel Aleksandr Novikov as a candidate in Bashkortostan's presidential race, RosBalt reported on 8 September. An LDPR congress held the same day decided that State Duma Deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov, who previously had stated an intention to run for president (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 July and 1 August 2003), will instead take part in the Moscow mayoral election. Novikov, 52, is the deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Property.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova