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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 2, 2003

2 October 2003
Unified Russia Lists State Duma Candidates From Tatarstan
Russia's Central Election Commission (TsIK) on 28 September registered Unified Russia's list of candidates for the upcoming State Duma elections, with Tatarstan represented by a group of candidates headed by Farid Mukhametshin, chairman of the State Council and head of Unified Russia's local branch, TatarInform reported on 30 October. The list also includes State Duma Deputy Oleg Morozov, chairman of the Duma faction Russian Regions; Kazan Energy University Rector Yurii Nejmiev; Russian Olympic Committee Vice President Aleksandr Kozlovskii; Santekhpribor General Director Enver Mokhametzakirov; Kamgesenergostroi General Director Viktor Yeltsov; State Duma Deputy Mikhail Rokitskii; Tatar Deputy Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Ildar Gilmetdinov; and "Molodezh Tatarstana" Editor in Chief Anbyar Karmeev. In single-mandate districts, Unified Russia listed: Tatar Deputy State Council Chairman Marat Mehdiev (Elmet district No. 23); Tatfondbank directors council Chairman Rinat Gobeidullin (Moscow district No. 24), State Duma Deputy Oleg Morozov (Chally district No. 25); Albert Salikhov, head of the party's Tuben Kama branch (Tuben Kama district No. 26), and Krasnyi Vostok brewery board Chairman Airat Kheirullin (Volga district No. 27).

Standard & Poor's Raises Tatneft's Ratings
The international rating agency Standard & Poor's has raised Tatneft's rating from B- to B, prognosis stable, reported on 1 October. The improvement came as a result of the oil company's falling debt and Tatarstan's improving economy. The agency on 22 September raised Tatarstan's rating long-term rating on foreign-currency loans from CCC+ to B-. Improvements in Tatarstan's budgetary policy and lower debt helped eliminate some of the republic's dependence on Tatneft for financial support. However, Tatneft's rating is still constrained by its closeness to republic authorities and lack of transparency, and by its below-average profit margin, according to the report.

Tatar Gunpowder Plant Obtains Federal Subsidy
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a resolution ordering the Industry, Science, and Technology Ministry to allocate 50 million rubles ($1.6 million) from the federal budget to subsidize the Kazan State Gunpowder Plant in 2003 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 February 2003), Interfax-AVN reported on 1 October, citing the department of government information. The money is to be used to pay off debts and back wages. The Industry, Science, and Technology Ministry will oversee how the subsidy is spent, according to the report.

Krasnyi Vostok To Construct Dairy Plant
Krasnyi Vostok brewery board Chairman Kheirullin announced on 1 October that the company will begin construction in Kazan this year on a new dairy capable of processing 1,000 tons of milk per day, reported. A contract for the construction of the dairy is expected to be signed next week, he added. In preparation for the project, the company signed a contract in early 2003 with the Swedish company De Laval to equip five milk-cattle breeding facilities, each of which is designed to hold 6,500 head of cattle and costs 5.5 million euros ($6.4 million). The first breeding facility has been constructed and is to begin operations in mid-October, while the last of the facilities is expected to be finished in early 2005, Kheirullin said.

Krasnyi Vostok plans to invest 2.2 billion rubles ($72 million) in the republic's agriculture sector by 2006 and has set up five agro-industrial companies uniting 29 government-owned farms. The company holds 100,000 hectares of agricultural land in Tatarstan.

Also on 1 October, a company shareholders' meeting elected Kheirullin as chairman of the board, reported on 1 October. He previously served as the company's general director. Vladimir Pankov, previously first deputy general director, was appointed as Kheirullin's replacement.

Discovered Grave Believed To Contain Missing Company Director's Body
Interior Minister Esget Seferov announced on 1 October that two burial sites containing human remains have been discovered on a Kama River island, Tatar media reported. One of the graves is believed to hold the remains of Igor Kudinov, former general director of the Farmservis company, who disappeared on 13 June 2001. Ministry employees believe he was kidnapped and killed by members of an organized criminal group that is reputedly led by Chally businessman Eduard Tahirjanov, Efir TV reported. Several days before, ministry personnel discovered the body of kidnapped KamAZ manager Viktor Faber along with other human remains (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 September 2003). On 1 October, more than 3,000 Chally residents, including KamAZ General Director Sergei Kogogin and State Duma Deputy Morozov, attended Faber's burial.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Veremeenko Urges Rakhimov To Step Down
Former Mezhprombank head and current Bashkir presidential candidate Sergei Veremeenko said on 1 October that opposition organizations of Bashkortostan are "ready to collect 1 million signatures under a petition urging the early and voluntary retirement" of President Murtaza Rakhimov and his withdrawal from the December elections, reported the same day.

Claiming that Bashkortostan is currently "a private principality with an isolationist political course, upheld by a strict police-maintained regime," Veremeenko said that republican authorities "will issue extra ballots to falsify the elections" and therefore his supporters will make sure that there are independent observers at every polling station.

Rakhimov Files Libel Suit Against Opposition Weekly
President Rakhimov filed a lawsuit at the Sovietskii District court in Ufa on 1 October seeking 10 million rubles ($327,000) in damages from "Russkii obozrevatel" journalist Enver Yumagulov, whose 29 August article accused Rakhimov of sabotaging the construction of the Polief chemical plant and planning to sell it for one-20th its market price, RosBalt reported. The suit claims that the author did not present any facts to confirm his statements and infringed on the honor, dignity, and business reputation of the Bashkir president. In addition, it demands the paper publish a retraction.

Antidrug Agency Denies Accusations It Spied On Opposition
The Bashkir branch of the State Committee on Drug Trafficking issued an official protest on 1 October against an 18 September article in the opposition "Vybor naroda" weekly, which said that department officers were conducting surveillance of opposition candidate Sergei Veremeenko, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The committee branch said that its work was only related to the prevention of drug trafficking and that the accusation was unfounded.

Businessman Killed In Ishimbai Police Office
The Moscow-based "Mir novostei" weekly reported on 1 October that the chief of detectives in the Ishimbai city police shot local businessman Aleksandr Melnikov dead in his office. Melnikov was reportedly there to testify in a racketeering case against local police officers. The unnamed chief detective, who claimed that he used the gun in self-defense, was arrested and charged with murder, the paper reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi