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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 1, 2003

1 October 2003
Tatarstan To Double Oil Deliveries To Ukraine...
Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khefiz Salikhov told a briefing in the Cabinet of Ministers on 30 September that deliveries of Tatar oil to Ukraine will be doubled from the current 4 million tons a year as a result of a visit by a Tatar government delegation to Kyiv last week, reported the same day. Salikhov said the two sides also agreed to develop joint projects on the assembly of small buses and KamAZ trucks in Ukraine. Following the visit, which was part of the Days of Tatarstan in Ukraine, deliveries of machinery from Vakuummash, Kazankompressormash, Kazan Medical Instrument Plant, the Alnas pump plant, and Tatelektromash will be increased. The bilateral trade turnover with Ukraine, Tatarstan's second-largest trade partner and leader among CIS countries, is $500 million.

...As Tatar-Ukrainian Venture Faces Obstacles To Exports
The Ukrainian State Customs Service on 26 September issued a resolution to end the export of petroleum products, a move that will affect the Tatar-Ukrainian venture Ukrtatnafta, the owner of the country's biggest oil refinery, Kremenchug, "Vedomosti" reported on 30 September. The decision followed a demand by the Ukrainian government that export contracts for oil and petroleum products must be registered in the Energy Ministry and the Economy Ministry.

Ukrtatnafta Chairman Pavel Ovcharenko told the daily that the regulations on registration procedures have not been developed and plants have not had a chance to register their export contracts. Ukrtatnafta observers council Chairman and Tatar First Deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov called the move "an extremely unpleasant surprise." He said: "At least nine days will be necessary to register contracts. Subsequently, black oil and clear petroleum products will accumulate in reservoirs and no capacity will be left for new production. Thus, we cannot exclude the possibility of stopping the refinery." Moratov also said the situation could result in the stoppage of contracts, causing some $8 million in losses.

TAIF Wins Property Dispute With Tatneft
The Tatar-American Investments and Finances group (TAIF) has won a lawsuit against Tatneft to take over one of the major plants of the Tuben Kama Oil Refinery (NNPZ), "Vedomosti" reported on 1 October. TAIF, which planned to increase its share in NNPZ capital by adding the plant to the refinery, was contesting its valuation by Arthur Andersen in 2001. The ELOU-AVT-7 plant, chief element of the NNPZ first line currently leased by the refinery, was valued at $36 million, while TAIF claimed its value at least five times that. TAIF General Director Albert Shihabetdinov told the daily that NNPZ is not efficient enough while its managers have changed the construction of ELOU-AVT-7 in violation of the lease agreement.

In early September, TAIF appealed to the Tatar Arbitration Court to annul the lease agreement and demand that ELOU-AVT-7 be returned to TAIF. Shihabetdinov said TAIF is ready to negotiate the issue with Tatneft but demands that the oil company either re-estimate the plant's value or purchase it from TAIF. The daily cited an unnamed official from the Tatar government as saying the conflict with TAIF may create major problems for Tatneft, which had planned to construct in the next five years a $1.1 billion deep-oil-refining facility.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov's Delay In Announcing Re-Election Bid Said To Be Just Politics
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 26 September that he does not exclude the possibility of not running in the 7 December presidential elections "if really decent people, who will be able to be useful for the republic, worry for it, not seek to increase their wealth" enter the race, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 29 September. Rakhimov said that he was glad that former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko and former LUKoil Vice President Relif Safin joined the race, because "the more candidates there are, the more interesting the elections will be." The daily commented that "being a truly oriental-style politician, Rakhimov decided to delay his official announcement to take part in the elections as long as possible."

"Kommersant-Daily" also cited Yabloko party members in Bashkortostan as not believing Rakhimov's uncertainty, suggesting that "he is using his traditional scenario, where Murtaza Gubaidullovich pretends to be tired and unwilling to take on another presidential term, but then the presidential administration arranges numerous �letters from the working collectives published by the local press and talking Rakhimov into running in the elections."

Displaced Chief Of Presidential Staff Prefers To Stay On Rakhimov's Team
Ildar Gimaev, the former chief of staff of Rakhimov's administration, received offers to run the campaign headquarters of other presidential candidates, a reliable source in the republican government told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 30 September (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 September 2003). Gimaev, who was appointed head of the social and economic policies department of the presidential staff, rejected the offers to leave Rakhimov's team, the source said.

However, the source also said that although Gimaev "referred to his poor health in his resignation application, he is said to have used this excuse only to avoid further pressure from Rakhimov, who sought to replace him before the presidential elections."

Rakhimov Holds Strong Lead In Opinion Polls
According to the Bashkir branch of the Regional Sociology Centers Association, President Rakhimov has an enormous lead in public opinion polls over the other presidential candidates, RosBalt reported on 30 September. The association's representative in Ufa, Timur Sablin, told the agency that "the presence of several opponents to Rakhimov splits the votes, thus granting more advantages to the president." Sablin said that if his opponents join forces, it could challenge Rakhimov's lead.

Five Presidential Candidates For Now Registered
Five candidates have so far applied to taking part in the 7 December presidential elections, Bashkortostan's Central Election Commission announced on 30 September. The list of candidates now includes former LUKoil Vice President and current Russian Federation Council member representing Altai Republic Relif Safin, leader of the opposition Equality movement Aleksandr Arinin, Bashkortostan's Undertakers Union Chairman Nikolai Shvetsov, Ufimskoe Ltd. Director Tamindar Galimov, and the owner of a horse-breeding farm in the Iglin region, Khasan Idiatullin.

The commission has not yet received applications from former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko and Resul Shugurov, a Communist Party leader in Bashkortostan, both of whom have declared their intention to run for Bashkir president.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi