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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 5, 2002

5 September 2002
Presidential Adviser Says Tatarstan's Oil Reserves To Last For 35 Years...
Renat Muslimov, Tatarstan's presidential adviser on the use of mineral resources, oil, and gas, said during the opening ceremony of the "Oil, Gas, and Oil Chemistry" international fair in Kazan on 4 September that the republic's oil producers plan to maintain annual output at some 30 million tons until 2012 and then gradually decrease the amount to 12 million tons per year, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. He added that known oil reserves will allow for oil production in Tatarstan for about the next 35 years. Muslimov also noted that Tatarstan is thought to possess some 1.4 billion tons of oil in still undiscovered oil deposits in addition to the estimated 800 million tons at already prospected sites. He also pointed out that there were big deposits of bitumen and liquid oil that are expected to take some 200 or so years to exhaust.

The republic's major oil company, Tatneft, currently extracts some 24 million tons of oil per year and 7 more million tons are produced by smaller private companies. According to Muslimov, the share of private companies' output will increase in the coming years as compared to Tatneft's.

...And Slams Federal Tax Code For Cutting Oil Producers' Profits
According to Muslimov, Tatneft's production expenses have reached $6 per barrel, while the average figure within Russia is reported at $3.6 per barrel, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 5 September. He blamed the new Russian tax code which, after taking affect in 2002, increased Tatneft's oil production costs by 50 percent. Muslimov also added that the high oil prices in the world market, at $25-26 per barrel, "was not benefiting Tatneft" because of the progressive taxation system that makes the former price of $22 more profitable for the company.

Geology Expert Says Oil Becoming Harder To Extract In Tatarstan
Irina Larochkina, Tatarstan's senator in the Russian Federation Council and an expert in geology and mineralogy, said during the "Oil, Gas, and Oil Chemistry" international fair in Kazan on 4 September that teams currently prospecting for oil are operating in the eastern part of Tatarstan because the western part has thus far proved ineffective, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 5 September. She noted a change in the structure of discovered deposits by saying that before the 1990s Tatar oil producers used big-capacity oil deposits as large as 30 million tons but that now they have switched to small, 1-million-ton deposits. Larochkina said that oil prospecting activities "are becoming more difficult and expensive" in Tatarstan.

Austrian Delegation Tours Tatarstan's Major Industries
Johannes Sachs, Austria's Economy and Labor Ministry official in charge of foreign economic affairs, and representatives of Austrian industries arrived in Chally on 5 September to visit the KamAZ auto concern and the ElAZ auto plant in Alabuga, the daily "Vremya i Dengi" reported. Later, the Austrians plan to meet Tatarstan's minister of trade and foreign economic cooperation, Khafiz Salikhov, top managers of Kazan's Optical-Mechanical Plant, and the Kazan Organic Synthesis Plant.

Trade turnover between Austria and Tatarstan totaled $14.4 million last year, only 0.46 percent of Tatarstan's total foreign trade. Tatarstan's exports to Austria are dominated by oil and oil products, while Austria supplies Tatarstan with a wide range of machinery.

Tatarstan Among Major Donors To Federal Budget
According to the republican branch of the Russian Tax Ministry cited by Tatar-inform on 4 September, Tatarstan has contributed 2.7 percent of Russia's total tax revenues this year and is ranked as the seventh largest contributor among the federation's entities. Moscow, with 23.4 percent of the federation's tax revenues, was first on the list, while Samara Oblast, with 2.9 percent was rated sixth.

First Land Auction In Kazan Since 1917 October Revolution
A land auction was held in Tatarstan's capital on 4 September for the selling of land to the public, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 4 September. The businessmen were mainly interested in buying lots to build shops, car repair garages, and land for apartment blocks. During the auction, the average price for a plot of land reached more than $30,000.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Says He Won't Run For Third Term
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov told Interfax-Eurasia on 4 September that he is not going to run for the republic's presidency in the 2003 elections. "After weighing all the pros and cons, I announce that I do not have any desire or aspiration for becoming Bashkortostan's president for the third time. But if the people express their will and would like me to become the republic's president, maybe I will revise my position. I am not going to be against the people's will," the president stressed.

Rakhimov said his final decision on his participation in next year's presidential elections will depend as well on whether Bashkortostan becomes a parliamentary republic. He said a cardinal reorganization of the republic's political system is one of the variants of constitutional reform now being developed in the State Assembly. He said such an innovation would be reasonable, as it would be better if the only president was of all Russia, while regions were headed by governors or heads of parliaments. "But despite my opinion, the final decision on this issue will be passed by State Assembly deputies," he said.

Rakhimov said that possible candidates for the Bashkir presidency, especially those not from the republic itself, will have minimal chances to win in the next elections, because of the mentality of the republic's electorate. "They, however, will definitely use the chance to talk loudly about themselves on the political scene, mainly for self-advertising," he said.

"Izvestiya" on 5 September cited unidentified analysts as saying that Rakhimov's statements are in reaction to the Kremlin's worsened attitude toward him. The daily also quoted the deputy director of the Center of Political Technology, Boris Makarenko, as commenting: "This is an invitation for the Bashkir people to begin persuading Rakhimov to be re-elected for a third term. [Turkmen President Saparmurat] Niyazov has already been persuaded by the [Turkmen] people. In this case, the result will be the same."

Legislature To Discuss Harmonized Constitution In October
Bashkortostan's Constitution, after being harmonized with federal legislation, will be proposed for consideration to the republic's State Assembly in October, President Rakhimov told Interfax-Eurasia on 4 September. Rakhimov said that while initially some 150 points of the constitution were considered as contradicting federal legislation, currently some 20 controversial issues are still to be resolved. He said, "We have to regulate all the still-unresolved issues, including the provision on the president, according to which a candidate for the post must be able to speak both Russian and Bashkir."

Rakhimov also said that ministers and heads of executive bodies, according to the new version of the constitution, won't have the right to be elected to the State Assembly. And heads of city and raion administrations will no longer be appointed and dismissed by presidential decrees but will be elected, according to federal law. The republic's parliament will remain bicameral. The legislature will include 20 full-time deputies, as well as two representatives from each raion and city. Some current powers of the parliament's upper chamber will be passed to the lower one that will meet regularly.

Russian Foreign Ministry Decorates Rakhimov With Medal
President Rakhimov was awarded a medal by the Russian Foreign Ministry for his achievements and contribution to the establishment and development of foreign political and economic relations, BashInform reported on 4 September. The decoration was awarded by the ministry's representative in Ufa, Zinnur Mardanov, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Mardanov said Rakhimov's contribution to the republic's foreign economic relations is inestimable. Under Rakhimov's rule, 144 agreements with foreign countries have been signed in Bashkortostan over the past nine years, about one-sixth of all agreements concluded by federation subjects. Bashkortostan's foreign-trade turnover in 2001 was $2.5 billion, more than in all Russia's other regions. More than 40 percent of republican budget revenues come through foreign economic relations.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova