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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 15, 2002

15 March 2002
Moscow Reportedly Dissatisfied With Draft Constitution
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 14 March quoted participants in a roundtable on the draft Tatarstan Constitution at Kazan University as reporting that Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev has prepared a protest against the document. The republic's power-sharing treaty being maintained in the new draft reportedly prompted the prosecutor's main objection, since the deadline for similar treaties to be annulled was fixed for 28 June and the Tatarstan Constitution would again contradict Russian law. Professor Midkhat Farukshin, who chaired the roundtable, said Moscow is going to issue a public warning to Bashkortostan's parliament that it did not succeed in harmonization of the Bashkir Constitution. Then Russian President Vladimir Putin may announce a similar warning to Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov, Farukshin said. He commented that such actions will be intended to intimidate both Bashkortostan and Tatarstan and make them completely obedient. Farukshin called such a policy "political absurd," adding it will prompt a situation in which the Tatarstan Constitution will be fully developed in Moscow and it will be impossible to include a single paragraph without the approval by the Russian presidential administration.

Tatarstan Pardon Commission Backs Eight Of 96 Appeals
The head of the Russian presidential Pardons Commission, Robert Tsivilev, said commissions in federation entities recommended the rejection of a majority of appeals considered, reported on 14 March. He said that in Tatarstan, the Pardons Commission sustained eight of 96 appeals, the commission in the Saratov Oblast two of 18, in the Voronezh Oblast one of five, and in the Murmansk Oblast one of two. Meanwhile, in the Nizhnii Novgorod and Ulyanovsk oblasts, commissions denied all of the two and three appeals they considered, respectively.

KamAZ To Sell Trucks To Afghanistan
The general manager of KamAZ and Afghanistan's Public Works Minister on 14 March signed a protocol on cooperation between the truck concern and the Afghan government, reported the same day. According to the document, KamAZ will resume deliveries of vehicles and spares to Afghanistan. The company will help reconstruct KamAZ service centers and create training centers and a dealers network in the war-torn country. In the 1980s, Afghanistan was one of main foreign trade partners for KamAZ. Afghan state bodies reportedly possess some 1,000 KamAZ trucks, and 5,000 more vehicles are in private ownership, the agency said.

Underground Construction To Slow
Tatarstan Deputy Transport Minister Azat Galiakhmetov said the Kazan underground will not likely be constructed by 2005, as initially planned, reported on 14 March. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told a briefing on road construction that the government will give priority this year to construction of a bridge through Kama. Galiakhmetov said the underground construction will be financed solely from the federal budget, which has allocated 313 million rubles in the current year, 18.5 percent of the required 2.1 billion rubles. The construction of the subway's first line will cost 14.3 billion rubles, or 120,000 rubles per meter, Galiakhmetov said. He added that 949 million rubles have been spent so far on the project, 463 million of that from Tatarstan's budget. Russian authorities previously promised to allocate 4.7 billion rubles for the project but now say 80 percent of the cost must be covered by the republic, Galiakhmetov added.

Tuben Kama Petrochemical Plant's Profits Fall In 2001
Nizhnekamskneftekhim (NKNKh) Deputy General Manager Rustam Akhmetov told a management board meeting that the company's posted a profit of 2.5 billion rubles in 2001, half the previous year's sum, reported on 14 March. The board suggested that 13 million rubles be allocated for payment of dividends for privileged shares and 64.5 million rubles for ordinary shares and recommended to the upcoming annual shareholders meeting paying 6 percent in dividends per privileged share and 4 percent per ordinary share.

Tatenergo Switches Off Energy
Tatarstan's five major cities �- Yeshel Uzen, Bogelme, Leninogorsk, Bauly, and Bua �- saw restricted energy supplies on 14 March in a dispute over 30 million rubles of debt, reported the same day. Tatenergo recommended that local administrations launch reserve energy supplies to hospitals, schools, and other social objects.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashneft, Tatneft Oppose Introduction Of Oil-Quality Measure
A Federation Council senator from Bashkortostan, Aleksandr Yakubov, sharply criticized plans to introduce an oil-quality bank in the federal law on pipeline transport, "Vremya novostei" reported on 14 March. Yakubov said Bashneft would lose $500 million a year from the measure. He said the implementation of the project could result in economic and social instability in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. Yakubov asserted that Bashneft would have to stop production at the majority of its wells and release some 30,000 employees. He said the project would call into question the very existence of Bashneft, which currently provides 25 percent republican budget revenues. Yakubov said Bashkir and Tatar oil does not significantly affect the general quality of Russian oil exports, as sulfur levels �- just 1.1 percent in Siberian oil �- reach just 1.25 percent after Tatar and Bashkir oil are mixed in. Brent oil produced by Arab countries contains 0.46 percent sulfur, he added. Tatneft's Moscow representative, Azat Yagafarov, said his company would lose $8 to $28 per ton of oil from the introduction of such an oil quality bank.

The paper quoted Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii saying that Siberian oil companies lose $2.5 billion annually due to mixing their production with Bashkir and Tatar oil. Meanwhile, Senator Yakubov cited Russian Deputy Power Engineering Minister Vladimir Stanev saying that it is premature to introduce an oil-quality bank in Russia.

Leaders of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan recently appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, arguing that the introduction of the oil-quality bank would hurt state-owned Tatneft and Bashneft.

Bashkir Nuclear Station To Be Constructed By 2021
The construction of the Bashkir Nuclear Power Station in Agidel is planned for completion by 2021, according to a document called "Strategy Of Russia's Atomic Energy In The First Half Of The XXI Century," Rosbalt reported on 13 March, quoting Bashkortostan cabinet officials. The Moscow Atomenergoprojekt Scientific Research Institute is charged with developing the design of the station. Construction is to begin in 2004, and the first block is to be launched in 2010.

Health Minister Sacks Underlings In Wake Of Embezzlement Findings
Health Minister Rais Khasanov told a ministry board meeting that inspections at 45 republican health institutions uncovered 8.5 million rubles' ($274,000) worth of embezzlement in 2001, Bashinform reported on 13 March. Two deputy ministers, the Ufa health board head, and other officials were fired as a result of the review campaign by the ministry.

Tatar Civic Movements Fight 'Bashkirization'
Bashkortostan's Tatar public organizations united under a joint council sharply protested a policy they say is aimed at presenting Tatars as Bashkirs and dividing Tatars, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 13 March. Representatives were in attendance from the groups: Milli Mejlis, the Tatar Public Center, the National-Cultural Autonomy, Miras, the Ufa Tatar Cultural Center, the Tatar Women's Organization, and the Tatar Youth Union. Council head Professor Marat Ramazanov told RFE/RL that, "The Bashkir ethnocratic regime in the republic strongly promotes weakening and dividing Tatars. All state bodies and Bashkir public organizations contribute to this campaign, and it is difficult for Tatar public organizations to counteract the state policy under such conditions."

Ufa Authorities Shroud Tax-Office Fire In Secrecy
Ufa Soviet Raion Tax Service employees were ordered to sign a document pledging that they will not disclose information about a fire that took place on 7 March in the service's office, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 13 March. The correspondent quoted unidentified source saying guards of the service were attacked and several rooms in the office exploded. The Interior Ministry refuses to comment on the case.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova