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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 3, 2002

3 September 2002
Federal, Local Officials Debate Details Of Financing Kazan's Millennium Celebration
Speaking at a meeting of the organizing committee for Kazan's millennium celebration in the Tatar capital on 30 August, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko responded to a complaint by Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov that Moscow has delayed loan transfers for rebuilding the city's historic downtown area, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 3 September. Matvienko said the Russian Finance Ministry is not satisfied with the fact that the Kazan administration has failed to present its business plans on a timely basis, which, as Matvienko pointed out, is an important condition of loan contracts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who chaired the meeting, added that the Kazan administration should attract more funds from private sources in order to prepare for the anniversary celebrations in 2005. Iskhakov replied by saying that private entrepreneurs will only provide funding when there are state guarantees that various projects will in fact be financed (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 31 July 2002).

State Works Official Dismissed For Violations In Tender Procedure
Enver Zakirov, head of the republican agency for state works, was dismissed on 2 September, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 3 September. An anonymous source in the Tatar government told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent that Zakirov was fired because of violations during a recent tender to perform maintenance on school buildings (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 August 2002). The agency reportedly held the tender as a formality, since contracts for the maintenance work had already been signed beforehand. The government has not yet commented officially on the dismissal.

Reward Offered For Information Regarding Death Of Egerce Official
Friends and relatives of Refis Seitov, the head of the Egerce region administration who was killed on 30 August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 September 2002), have offered a 1 million-ruble ($31,700) reward for information on the person or persons involved in his killing, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily reported on 3 September. The Tatar Interior Ministry agreed with the offer, saying that it would give the money to anyone providing significant information leading to the arrest of those involved in the killing.

This is the first time that a monetary reward has been offered to help acquire information about a crime in Tatarstan.

Shaimiev Attends Opening Ceremonies For New, Renovated Schools
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev took part in the opening ceremony of a new school in the Mendeleevskii region of the republic on 2 September, the first day of the new school year, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Shaimiev also attended a ceremony for the reopening of a renovated school in the Minzele region later the same day. The Tatar president gave both schools computer classes from the republican government, while he also emphasized the high quality of education in Tatarstan, telling pupils and school officials that "our children must be proud to be educated in Tatarstan."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov To Allow Privatization Of Oil, Petrochemical Companies
The risk of losing power in the republic has forced Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov to begin privatizing petrochemical assets, a process that is attracting some of the largest oil companies, the weekly "Expert" reported on 2 September. Rakhimov recently signed two decrees permitting Bashneftekhim and the Bashkirskaya Toplivnaya Kompaniya (BTK) to sell shares of companies they own, including Bashneft, Bashkirenergo, Uralo-Sibirskiye Magistralnye Nefteprovody, and Uraltransnefteprodukt. Shares of Bashkortostan's oil and petrochemical plants will be offered in the fall, the weekly said. "Expert" commented that Rakhimov, who alone controls nearly all of the republic's petrochemical and fuel-energy sector and its annual income of $3.5-$4 billion, "has always prevented this strong source of financial support from an outer invasion." Gradually, management of the sector's key companies has been passed over to Murtaza Rakhimov's son, Ural Rakhimov. "Expert" cited estimates according to which the wealth of the Rakhimov family totals $300-$400 million.

The paper said that Russia's financial-industrial groups will naturally play a role in Bashkortostan's 2003 presidential elections, and Rakhimov, who can be elected for two more terms, has decided to sacrifice control over the oil business in order to preserve his political power. He would like to sell part of oil and petrochemical assets to an investor, most likely to a large oil company, a measure that would allow him to keep out any serious contenders from that sector from running for the presidency. The magazine names LUKoil vice president and senator from the Gorno-Altai Krai, Ralif Safin, as a candidate for the Bashkir presidency, and said he will likely enjoy support not only from Moscow but also from Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev. The publication cited Dmitrii Druzhinin, a senior analyst from the Prospekt company, as saying that the Bashkir oil sector will likely soon need a lot of money for the development of business since the standards of oil products in Europe are higher and as a result the sales of Bashneft-produced oil -- which has a high sulfur content -- will decrease. At the moment, the efficient work of Bashneftekhim and BTK is secured by tax breaks and privileges provided by Bashkortostan's government.

Expert.ural on 2 September named LUKoil, Tatneft, Tyumenskaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya, and Surgutneftegaz -- the companies that deliver oil to Bashkortostan's refineries -- as the most likely to purchase shares in Bashkir companies. The weekly cited Ufa political analyst Andrei Kokorev as commenting that such a result would mean that funds from the sale of stock shares would be spent on Rakhimov's electoral campaign.

Problems Of Bashkortostan's Tatars Not Find Coverage At Tatar Congress
Not a single representative of the Tatar community in Bashkortostan -- which numbers more than one million people -- spoke at the congress's plenary session, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 2 September. Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov did speak at the plenary session -- delivering his speech in Bashkir -- while at Bashkir congresses he usually speaks Russian, the correspondent reported. The only delegate from Bashkortostan who made a report during one of the forum's programs was the president of Bashkortostan's Academy of Sciences, Robert Nigmatulin, who has only spoken against granting Tatar the status of a state language in Bashkortostan. And the only delegate who devoted his speech at the congress to the state of Bashkortostan's Tatars was writer Aidar Khalim, Tatarstan's Milli Mejlis chairman. He expressed his concern about the policy of Bashkirization in Bashkortostan and how it violates human-rights legislation in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova