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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 11, 2003

11 December 2003
Tatspritprom Ordered To Stop Advertising Vodka
The Antimonopoly Policy Ministry's Tatar Directorate ordered a halt to the ad campaign for the Tatar alcohol company Tatspirtprom, that is being shown in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kazan, "Vedomosti" reported on 11 December. As the directorate noted, the campaign promotes the Internet site for the best photo, called "Khanskaya fotka" (Khan's photo), the name, of which, is similar to the company's brand of Khanskaya vodka, and is viewed as an attempt for it to avoid the ban on ads of hard liquor. The ad campaign for the "Khanskaya fotka" competition was launched some two months ago in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kazan and cost $150,000 a month. It includes 230 billboards promoting the Internet-site "Khanskaya fotka," which has direct links to another site informing about the vodka "Khanskaya." The Antimonopoly Policy Ministry's Tatar Directorate ruled that the campaign is being used for ulterior advertising of vodka and the company is to dismantle its billboards and pay a 80,000 ruble fine. Tatspirtprom Marketing Director Marat Nigmetullin told the daily that the holding will appeal the decision in a court.

Suspected Killer Of Former Krasnhyi Vostok Brewery Director Arrested
The Interior Ministry's investigation division has detained a murder suspect during an investigation of the criminal case against the organized criminal group Khadi Taqtash. Interior Minister Esget Seferov said an international search for a person who contracted the murder will be announced in a short time. Eibetov was shot on 20 February 1996 outside his home in Kazan. "Kommersant-Daily" quoted on 11 December unidentified sources in Tatar law enforcement bodies as saying that the leaders of Khadi Taqtash contracted the murder of Eibetov, who reportedly refused the let them take over the company. The murder, however, did not help them gain control of the brewery, the daily said. In 2002, a court sentenced two members of the Khadi Taqtash group to life imprisonment and other 11 members to between six and 24 years in prison for gangsterism, murder, extortion, organization of a criminal group, and other crimes.

Former Interior Department Head Convicted Of Bribetaking
The Tatar Supreme Court has sentenced the former head of the Moslim Raion's Interior Department, Colonel Vladislav Gyilmanov, to four years imprisonment for bribetaking (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 October 2003), ITAR-TASS reported on 10 December. The court confirmed that Gyilmanov, together with former department employee Captain Ildar Gereev, received a 30,000 ruble bribe for "roofing" (extorting money for protection) the transportation of oil stolen from pipelines. Gereev, who showed repentance and helped investigators, has been sentenced to four years of conditional imprisonment.

Government Gets Rid Of Unprofitable Companies
Over 70 percent of Tatarstan's state-run companies face losses, while the rate among other companies is below 50 percent, Tatar-inform reported on 10 December, citing the Tatar Land and Property Relations Ministry. Currently 180 state-run companies are being liquidated, 80 other similar companies will be, while 100 enterprises have been recognized as bankrupt. The liquidation of state-run companies in the current year is in an attempt to recover some 137-million rubles in debts. Land and Property Relations Minister Valerii Vasilev commented that a major portion of state-run companies in the housing and municipal-services sector will also be subject to anticrisis management. He also said some 140 state-run companies that are not threatened by bankruptcy will be privatized.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Prosecutors Release Suspect In Ufa Bombings
Bashkortostan's Prosecutors Office released Vyacheslav Senin, who had been charged with setting a booby trap at the gate of Aleksandr Veremeenko's residence in May 2003, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 10 December. However, the prosecutors have not lifted the charges against Senin, who worked as Veremeenko's bodyguard before his arrest on 21 November. Right after the arrest, Interior Minister Refeil Divaev claimed that Senin could possibly be related to the 27 September bombing attempt and the 5 November bombing in the Bashkir capital Ufa but these allegations were not confirmed by the prosecutors.

Aleksandr Veremeenko, formerly the head of Gazprom's branch in Bashkortostan, Bashtransgas, is the brother of Sergei Veremeenko, currently running for president in the republic.

According to Bashkir state media, Senin installed the booby trap at his employer's house at the latter's request, in order to draw and mislead the public with a fake assassination attempt.

Federal Officials To Hold More Closed-Door Meetings With Bashkir Authorities
Andrei Popov of the Russian presidential administration and Russian deputy presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Lyubov Glebova arrived in Ufa on 10 December, RosBalt reported the same day. The purpose of the visit was not announced, but it is known that the federal officials will meet with members of the Bashkir government. Popov is known to have visited Ufa on 5 November to hold a closed-door meeting with local law-enforcement and special-forces chiefs.

UralSib, NIKoil Discuss Further Merger Activities
Top managers of Bashkortostan's UralSib banking group and NIKoil Financial Corporation of Moscow met in Ufa on 9 December to discuss the further development of the bilateral agreement on strategic partnership, RosBalt reported the next day. After the planned merger with NIKoil's Avtobank, the newly formed financial institution will include 580 offices in 90 cities across Russia. Currently, NIKoil is reported to hold $3.8 billion in assets. UralSib has $2.3 billion in assets and $1.6 billion of credits distributed mostly among industrial enterprises in Russia and Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi