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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 15, 2003

15 September 2003
Russian Finance Minister Reviews Preparations For Kazan Millennium
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 12 September that "it will not be possible to complete all measures of the program for Kazan's restoration and development" by the celebration of its millennium in 2005, Russian and Tatar agencies reported. Kudrin, together with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, chaired the same day a meeting of the state commission on preparations for the celebration of Kazan's jubilee. It was reported at the meeting that 14 billion rubles ($457 million) of the planned total of 53 billion rubles, or 26.4 percent, have been allocated for the program since 2001 when the program started. Kudrin said another 24 billion rubles will be allocated for the program through August 2005. The federal budget has allocated 3 billion rubles out of the total of 7.7 billion rubles it is scheduled to donate, the Tatar government has given 6.5 billion rubles of the 20 billion rubles due, and some 5 billion rubles of an expected 20 billion rubles have been secured from nonbudget sources.

Kudrin told reporters following the meeting that he is satisfied with the preparations for the jubilee and that the program will not be limited as new sources will be sought to fulfill the budget. He also said that construction on the subway, the program to move residents from slums into new apartments, and the reconstruction of Kazan State University are priorities that will be finished by the celebrations in August 2005.

During his visit, Kudrin visited sites under construction in the Tatar capital, including the subway. Tatar Transport and Road Industry Minister Vladimir Shvetsov commented that only one-fourth of the work on the subway construction, which is to be finished by August 2005, has been done. Shvetsov also said only 2 billion rubles have been given for subway construction thus far instead of the 14 billion that was to have been allocated by now. Moscow, which originally said it would finance 50 percent of the subway construction, has since said that it will pay for 20 percent of the costs.

Orthodox Church Says Russia's Joining OIC A Benefit For Christians
The Russian Orthodox Church said it believes that Russia's entering of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will allow it to defend Christian minorities in Muslim countries, reported on 13 September, citing Interfax. The official representative of the Moscow Patriarchy, Roman Silantev, told a roundtable the same day in Moscow that Russia may try to secure the same rights for Christian minorities in Muslim countries as Muslims have in Russia. Silantev said that the decision to become a member of the OIC is the right of the Russian government, adding that the Russian Orthodox Church respects the opinion of the Russian president and the Foreign Affairs Ministry and said that the move is a positive development for the country's foreign policy.

Ukraine's Legislature Discusses Legislation To Privatize Ukrtatnafta Shares
The Ukrainian parliament passed on 12 September in the first reading a bill on the privatization of state-owned shares in Ukrtatnafta, the joint Ukrainian-Tatar company that owns the Kremenchug oil refinery, Interfax-Ukraine reported. According to the document, the selling of the company's 43 percent stake held by the Ukrainian Fund for State Property will be done as a single package in an open auction. The draft is aimed at preventing a splitting up of the package, not allowing its sale price to be less than $154 million, and to be able to monitor investment obligations. Tatarstan's leadership, Tatneft, the Tyumen Oil Company, and Ukraine's Privatbank and Ukrsibbank have stated their intention to purchase the Ukrtatnafta shares. Tatarstan's Land and Property Relations Ministry owns some 28.8 percent of Ukrtatnafta shares, Tatneft 8.6 percent, Seagroup International Inc. 10 percent, and Amruz Trading AG 8.3 percent. Tatneft General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov has stated that the Tatar government and Tatneft control together some 57 percent of Ukrtatnafta.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Daily: UralSib President Uses Deputy's Immunity To Avoid Legal Punishment
Bashkir State Assembly Deputy and president of the UralSib bank (formerly known as Bashkreditbank) Azat Qormanaev used his immunity as a deputy to halt an investigation into the mishandling of state property that raised serious allegations against him, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" wrote on 12 September. The daily wrote that recent inspections by the Russian Audit Chamber revealed that in 1995, 1996, and 1998 Bashkortostan's government entrusted UralSib with state-owned shares in major republican industries. UralSib later illegally sold the shares to an affiliate, Bashkreditinvest, and the money was reportedly not transferred to the state budget, but was used to increase the bank's capital. As a result of later extra share issues, the republic's stake in UralSib was reduced from 100 percent to some 50 percent, thus causing a significant part of state property to be lost.

After Russian Interior Ministry investigators launched criminal proceedings against the bank's management on 22 April, Qormanaev appealed to the Ufa's Kirov district court complaining that the investigation could infringe on his "constitutional rights and freedoms." According to the paper, Qormanaev tried to halt the investigation because he assumed that it would focus on him, although the case did not mention his name. In its response to Bashkir prosecutor's appeal of the Kirov district court decision, Bashkortostan's Supreme Court wrote that according to the documents, "Qormanaev personally undertook the abovementioned actions and accepted the state-owned share packages into management by the bank, sold the shares, made the decision on additional share issues, and signed all the necessary documents. Thus the investigator's statement primarily mentions the decisions and actions made specifically by Azat Qormanaev." "Rossiiskaya gazeta" speculated that under the current circumstances there was little guarantee that the deposits of some 400,000 UralSib customers were safe.

Bashkir President Notes Positive Developments In Republic's Industry
In his report to the Bashkortostan Republic Council, President Murtaza Rakhimov said that so far this year Bashkir industries increased production by 8.7 percent, while agricultural production increased by 5.8 percent from the same period in 2002, Bashinform reported on 12 September. He cited "dynamic developments" in the republican machinery, petrochemical, and chemical industries. The council approved the list of measures for further creation of favorable conditions for Bashkortostan's industrial development.

Indian Ambassador Visits Ufa
India's Ambassador to Russia Krishian Ragkhunatkh met with Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev on 13 September to discuss the current political and economic situation in the republic, the Bashkir presidential press service reported the same day. Ragkhunatkh told Tolkachev that he considered Russia and Bashkortostan to have similar problems as India, which is also a federal state. Later that day, Ragkhunatkh attended a ceremonial meeting devoted to the 30th anniversary of the Bashkortostan-India friendship society.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi