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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 22, 2002

22 May 2002
Security Council Discusses Tatarstan Oil Industry
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev called a meeting of Tatarstan's Security Council yesterday to discuss the development of the republic's oil and gas industries, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

Shaimiev said during the meeting that oil-related industries were of vital importance for Tatarstan because their output represented 50 percent of the republic's total industrial output and accounted for 58 percent of revenues for the republic's economy in 2001.

The meeting also focused on the creation of an oil-quality bank in Russia that would distribute the money received by the country's oil producers from exports according to the purity of the oil they supplied. Presidential adviser Rinat Muslimov said the creation of the bank would seriously undermine Tatarstan's revenues from oil exports because oil extracted in the republic contained high amounts of sulfur. Muslimov said that if the bank had been created in 2001, the republic would have lost $113 million in export revenues. He added that the bank would create unfavorable conditions for Tatarstan, "because [the bank] does not take into account the fact that sulfur-rich oil has a higher production cost compared to the oil extracted in other regions of Russia."

Muslimov used the same argument to criticize the oil-extraction tax that was imposed in 2001 regardless of production costs.

The Security Council agreed that it was necessary to implement new technology to extract high-density, sulfur-rich oil in order to increase efficiency.

Warm Weather Means Trouble For Agriculture Industry
Tatarstan Deputy Agriculture Minister Tahir Khadeev said at a press conference yesterday that 90,000 hectares of winter crops were destroyed because of relatively warm weather this winter and because of a deficit of organic fertilizers, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Khadeev said that farms suffered losses totaling 600 million rubles ($19.3 million). The republic has already spent 300 million rubles resowing the empty fields with spring crops, Khadeev said.

Despite the heavy losses, Khadeev said that the republic's farmers plan to harvest "4-4.5 million tons of grain in 2002, which should be sufficient for the republic."

Khadeev also said that a warm April followed by a cold May "is expected to result in less grass for feeding cows, and therefore, Tatarstan will obviously face a milk deficit."

Because of relatively low prices, milk and milk products form a major part of the diet of those members of the Tatarstan population with little social protection, such as pensioners, who represent more than 30 percent of the republic's population.

President Hosts Russian Navy Officials
President Shaimiev met with Rear Admiral Anatolii Shlemov, head of the Russian Navy's Shipbuilding Administration, and Rear Admiral Lev Sidorenko, assistant to the chief commander of Russian Navy, in Kazan yesterday to discuss ongoing work at Tatarstan's Yashel Uzen shipbuilding plant on a guard boat for the Russian fleet, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

Deputy Prime Minister Says Beer Festival Planned In Wrong Place At Wrong Time
Tatarstan Deputy Prime Minister Zilya Valeeva told Tatarstan state television and Efir television yesterday that the republican government sent a letter to the Kazan city administration asking it to alter its decision to postpone "Poslednii Zvonok" (Last Bell) celebrations in the city's schools from 25 May to 26 May.

Valeeva said the parents of schoolchildren were upset that Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov issued a resolution to postpone the event -- the last day of the school year -- after many parents had said that it was unacceptable to hold the Krasny Vostok brewery's beer festival on 25 May, the traditional day for Poslednii Zvonok.

Valeeva added that the location chosen by the brewery, on Yarmarochnaya Square in front of the Kazan Kremlin and near the Qol Sherif mosque, was, "the wrong place for holding the event, which should be held in clubs or some other place besides [Yarmarochnaya] Square. As for our traditions, it would be more traditional to hold a tea festival, but it looks like the festival's organizers have had too much beer to remember that."

Two weeks before Valeeva's statement, the Tatar Public Center and the Tatar People's Front issued a public statement protesting the beer festival and plans to hold it near the mosque, which is sacred to Tatars (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 14, 17 May 2002 and "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly," 10 May 2002).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Republic Inks Pipeline Deal
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov met yesterday with Sergei Maslov, president of Russia's Transnefteprodukt oil-pipeline company, to sign a cooperation agreement that calls for the construction of Transnefteprodukt pipelines through Bashkortostan territory, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

According to the agreement, Bashkortostan's oil-processing industry will have the right to use the pipelines to transport up to 2 million tons of oil annually.

Transnefteprodukt also agreed to supply the refineries in Ufa and Salavat with 250,000 tons of oil for processing every month, beginning in July.

In addition, the company contributed 7.65 million rubles ($246,000) to the construction of the Yumaguzin reservoir in Bashkortostan.

Economy Still Dependent On Oil Revenues
Although Bashkortostan's oil output has drastically decreased over the past few years from its peak of 40-45 million tons per year to its current level of 12 million tons per year, the republic is still maintaining its oil-processing industry, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported yesterday.

RFE/RL reported that the republic's Bashneft oil company contributes 13 percent of the annual budget in Bashkortostan. Bashneft hopes to increase its activities in western Siberia, where it has extracted 130,000 tons of oil so far this year, which is twice its total for all of 2001.

Yamalo-Nenets Governor Visits Ufa
Governor Yurii Neelov of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug visited Ufa yesterday to meet with President Rakhimov and to extend the cooperation agreement that the two Russian Federation subjects signed in 1997, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported.

Neelov told RFE/RL that his region had close economic and spiritual ties with Bashkortostan, because Bashkortostan residents began the Yamalo-Nenets oil and gas industries and many people from the republic are currently employed in the autonomous okrug.

Neelov also met yesterday with Talgat Tajuddin of the Russian Central Muslim Religious Board to discuss ways of promoting Islam in Yamalo-Nenets.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi