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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 16, 2002

16 May 2002
Iran To Buy 20 Tatarstan-Built Helicopters
Iranian Ambassador to the Russian Federation Golamreza Shaphei said on 14 May that Iran plans to purchase 20 Kazan-produced helicopters through Russia's Rosoboroneksport arms-trading company, Tatar-inform reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 14, 15 May).

During his meeting with Tatarstan State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin on 15 May, Shaphei stressed that "exceptional relations" exist between the two republics, reported the same day.

At Shaphei's meeting with Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov, the two discussed a joint project to build a North-South transport corridor that will join Europe with Central Asia. An agreement to implement the plan was signed by Russia, Iran, and India in September 2000 and was ratified by Russia's Federation Council in February. According to preliminary plans, the route is to be completed by 2005 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 February, 10, 17, 18 April 2002).

The two also discussed implementation of a joint protocol, which had been signed 17 months before, on preparations for the celebration of Kazan's 1,000th anniversary in 2005.

The ambassador's visit also saw the opening of an Iranian Studies Hall at the Kazan Pedagogical University. In addition, the opening of a publishing house to print books in the Persian language, which would be equipped by Iran, was also discussed.

Shaphei announced that Iran was going to provide 10 grants for postgraduate students from Tatarstan to study in Iran and was also going to finance teaching of the Persian language in Tatarstan.

Security Council Head Visits Kazan
Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo arrived in Kazan on 15 May, reported today. Upon arrival in the republic's capital, Rushailo said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had urged his tour of the Volga Federal District.

During his three-day visit, Rushailo plans to meet with Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev , to chair a meeting with the heads of federal and regional governmental bodies in the district in order to discuss their activities concerning public safety, to visit the Russian Islamic University, and to meet with various religious leaders. Rushailo is also expected to visit the Kazan Aviation Plant and Kazan Motor-Building Plant and to discuss with republican officials and businesses the development of the defense industry, as well as science and technology.

Tatarstan Trade Center Opens In Latvia
A Tatarstan-Baltic states trade center was recently opened in Riga upon the initiative of the Latvian Tatar-Bashkir Cultural Society, Tatar-inform reported on 15 May. The trade center is intended to promote Tatarstan enterprises in the Baltic states and to establish bilateral ties between businesspeople from Latvia and Tatarstan.

The center is to feature a permanent exhibit of goods produced by Tatarstan companies. Plans are also being worked out to open an information center and to create a website where information will be available about Tatarstan's economic, cultural, scientific, and technical potential, as well as about individual companies.

Latvia is Tatarstan's 17th-largest trade partner. Trade turnover between the two totaled $31 million in 2001, including $30.8 million in exports from Tatarstan, and a mere $176,000 in imports from the Baltic country.

KamAZ Announces Net Profit For 2001
The KamAZ automotive concern had a net profit of 57 million rubles ($1.8 million) in 2001, Ilya Klebanov, KamAZ's board chairman, told a meeting of company executives on 15 May, reported the same day. The board of directors recommended that this money be used to finance company development programs and not to pay dividends to shareholders.

This meeting also revealed that the company increased its sales in April by 140 million rubles ($4.5 million) as compared to the previous month. One in four trucks produced during that period was sold abroad.

The board of directors has slated a general shareholders meeting for 29 June.

TIU Leader Promotes World Turan Center
Tatar Public Center (TIU) Chairman Rashid Yagfarov announced plans at a press conference on 15 May to hold a constituent assembly in Kazan in October to establish a world Turan center, Tatar-inform reported the same day. The TIU leader, who co-chairs the organizing committee on the establishment of the Turan center, said that Turkic and Finno-Ugric peoples were part of the Turan group some 2,000 years ago, but that they have been divided during the past two millennia.

An attempt was made in the 1920s to reunite these peoples, but it failed, as did a similar attempt in the 1990s.

Yagfarov said the organizing committee appealed to the heads of Turkic and Finno-Ugric states and republics, including Turkey, Finland, Hungary, and the countries of Central Asia, as well as to Russian President Vladimir Putin, to solicit proposals for creating a world Turan center.

The October conference is expected to select a location for the center.

President Appoints Acting Deputy Prime Minister
Tatarstan President Shaimiev appointed Aleksei Pakhomov as acting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Industry on 15 May, reported the same day. Pakhomov, 57, is the former head of the Melita fur factory and is also president of Tatarstan's Association of Industrial Companies.

His predecessor is Sergei Kogogin, who was recently appointed as general director of KamAZ (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 April 2002).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Prosecutor-General's Office Says Salavat Mayor's Dismissal Violated Federal Law
Residents of the city of Salavat submitted a petition with more than 50,000 signatures protesting the dismissal of Mayor Azgat GAliyev to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the administration of the Volga Federal District, and the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 May. The petition claimed that Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov sacked the mayor because of his Tatar ethnicity (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report, 26 February, 1 March 2002).

The Volga Federal District branch of the Prosecutor-General's Office responded to the civic appeal, saying that Bashkortostan's Prosecutor-General's Office should investigate the dismissal because it was carried out in violation of federal law, which says that the heads of municipal and regional administrations should be appointed and dismissed in accordance with public elections.

RFE/RL reported that the Bashkortostan State Assembly is to consider draft republican legislation on the election of municipal and regional heads, who used to be appointed and dismissed by presidential decree.

Galiev, meanwhile, has not made any public statements regarding his dismissal since February, which could be explained by the fact that following his dismissal, the Bashkortostan government appointed him head of one of the leading industrial enterprises in Salavat.

Tatar-Rights Organizations Resume Preparations For Congress In Bashkortostan...
The coordinating board of Tatar-rights organizations in Bashkortostan is planning to hold a meeting involving activists from Tatar organizations and Tatars working in higher-education institutions and cultural centers in the republic, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 May.

The meeting is planned to discuss preparations for the second Congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars (the first was held in 1997), which is planned for July, though the Bashkortostan government has not yet given formal approval for this date.

According to congress organizers, the event will focus on the upcoming October census and measures for ensuring the proper reporting of Tatar population figures.

Bashkortostan Gets Positive Credit Rating
The international credit-rating agency, Standard & Poor's, gave Bashkortostan a B long-term issuer credit rating, with a positive outlook, the ratings agency announced on 14 May. A Standard & Poor's press release said that, "Bashkortostan has continued to show good budgetary performance, low debt, and has managed to extend a financial compensation agreement with the central government."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi