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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 17, 2002

17 July 2002
Tatarstan, China To Boost Ties
A Chinese government delegation including State Council Deputy Premier Li Lanqing, Education Minister Chen Zhili, and China's Ambassador to Russia Zhang Deguang arrived in Kazan on 15 July, reported the same day. The deputy premier of China's State Council arrived in Russia at the invitation of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko. Li heads the Chinese-Russian commission on cooperation in education, culture, health care, and sports that was established in 2000 to develop humanitarian cooperation between executive bodies of Russia and China. The visit is also timed to the anniversary of the treaty between the Chinese People's Republic and the Russian Federation signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin on 16 July 2001. Li explained the aim of his visit as "exchange of opinions on the implementation of the treaty and broadening bilateral cooperation in various spheres."

The delegation was received on 16 July by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev. cited on 16 July Li as saying following the meeting that there is a great potential to develop bilateral cooperation in culture, education, health care, and sports. He also said contacts between higher-educational institutions were under discussion during his meeting with President Shaimiev. Shaimiev said the Chinese officials suggested that Tatarstan choose provinces for cooperation. A film about Tatarstan will be produced to show on Chinese television while a film about China will be made to broadcast on Tatar television "to help the current abilities and history of our countries to become better-known," Shaimiev said.

Kirienko Says Oil Production In Volga Region Unprofitable
Presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko told Rosbalt on 16 July that the production cost of Tatarstan's oil is too high to be competitive. Kirienko said it will only be profitable to develop deposits of "heavy" oil in Tatarstan in 30 to 40 years, when the majority of Russian "light" oil deposits are exhausted. "Heavy" oil contains a lot of admixtures and purifying it significantly increases the cost of oil products. "The oil-refining industry currently won't pay this cost, so no one considers Volga-region oil deposits as a source of wealth," Kirienko said.

Klebanov Re-Elected KamAZ Board Chairman
Russian Industry, Science, and Technology Minister Ilya Klebanov was elected chairman of the KamAZ board of directors for the third time, "Vremya i dengi" daily reported on 16 July. The decision was approved at a board meeting on 12 July. The board includes 17 members in total, seven of which are federal ministers and department heads representing the Russian government's 34 percent stake in KamAZ. Foreign shareholders the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the KKR company, which together own 11 percent of shares, have one representative each. Other seats belong to Vneshtorgbank, which has 19.5 percent, and Tatarstan's government, the owner of an 11 percent stake.

Moscow To Pay Its Share In FLK In Stages
The Russian government will pay its share of some $50 million into the capital of Finansovaya Lizingovaya Kompaniya (FLK) not at once but gradually, Tatarstan's Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Sergei Mukhin told a briefing of the cabinet of ministers on 16 July. The first payment will be paid after independent experts evaluate the value of the FLK. The Russian government intends to purchase a controlling interest in the company. Mukhin said the FLK board of directors decided to develop several projects even before the Russian government pays its share. The FLK's capital totals about 3 billion rubles ($95 million) after the third issue of 1.5 billion rubles worth of shares. The Tatar government, Tatneft, IFK Solid, Zenit bank, Tatenergo, and KAPO are among FLK shareholders. Robert Musin, a former Tatar finance minister, has headed the FLK board of directors since its former chairman, Sergei Kogogin, was appointed KamAZ general director. FLK was established to develop financial schemes for the leasing of Kazan-produced Tu-214 jets.

Borodin To Visit Kazan
Union of Russia and Belarus State Secretary Pavel Borodin is to arrive in Kazan on 18 July, reported on 16 July. Borodin is scheduled to inspect KamAZ, which produces trucks that compete with Belarus's Minskii Avtonobilnyi Zavod. He is also expected to look over Tatarstan's potential in the petrochemical sector and ship construction, and meet with President Shaimiev.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Swiss Embassy Repeats Condolences To Relatives Of Crash Victims
The Swiss embassy in Moscow once again expressed its condolences on 16 July to relatives of the victims of the 1 July midair crash involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet in southern Germany, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Embassy officials said they thought it was important to express to the people of Russia that the people and government of Switzerland have been shocked and saddened by the loss of 71 lives in the crash. Officials also said the current investigation into the crash is being carried out to determine exactly what caused the crash, and in particular, to determine what role Swiss air-traffic controllers may have played. Swiss authorities have stated that they will cooperate in the investigation (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12 and 16 July 2002).

Russian Experts To Analyze Cockpit Recordings
Experts from the Russian International Aviation Committee (MAK) have begun analyzing tape recordings taken from the cockpit of the Bashkir Airlines jet, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 July, citing MAK Deputy Chairman Rudolf Teimurazov.

Teimurazov said that his agency has 70 minutes of tape and that it will take analysts about one hour to analyze every minute of tape. Russian experts are charged with analyzing the emotional and psychological state of the pilots prior to crash.

Deputy Speaker Comments On Constitutional-Reform Process
Bashkir State Assembly Deputy Chairman Minnirais Ishmuratov told Bashinform on 16 July that once the Bashkir Constitution is amended, it will become a part of Russia's unified legal space. As a result, he said, constitutional reforms may be carried out that could lead to the redistribution of powers among the various branches of state authority, especially between legislative and executive bodies. There are currently six working groups dedicated to amending various parts of the constitution. Ishmuratov also pointed out that the Russian Constitution may be amended since several of its provisions are now being contested in federal courts.

Ishmuratov said the experience of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan shows that the delegation of powers, along with possessing the necessary resources, can result in free development and prosperity for regions.

Ishmuratov also criticized amendments proposed to the federal law on natural resources according to which subjects of the Russian Federation will be excluded from managing or using natural resources. As a result, regional budgets will lose revenues from payments from companies for the use of natural resources located on their territory. Ishmuratov noted that according to the Russian Constitution, however, land and other natural resources are to be used and maintained as a basis for life and the activities of the people living on those territories. The proposed amendments aim to concentrate all powers of ownership over natural resources in the hands of the Kremlin, and federation subjects will be deprived of the right to regulate even reservoirs of drinking water located on their territories, Ishmuratov said, adding that this will lead to the deterioration of the living conditions of Bashkortostan's residents.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova