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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 1, 2002

1 November 2002
Petrochemical Giant Looking For Strategic Partner
The Nizhnekamskneftekhim petrochemical giant is holding negotiations with Yukos and Sibur oil companies to sell a blocking package of shares in exchange for the delivery of raw materials, "Vedomosti" reported on 1 November. The head of Nizhnekamskneftekhim's press center, Nikolai Zhemkov, said Yukos is making a bid for the stake, which could result in a loss of Nizhnekamskneftekhim's independence, a condition the petrochemical company will not agree to. Yukos press secretary Aleksandr Shadrin, however, denied that Yukos is interested in purchasing a stake in the company, the paper reported. Shadrin said Yukos is considering only a long-term agreement on the supply of raw materials.

Zhemkov said the negotiations are being carried out with the approval of the Tatar government, and they are begin supervised by Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov.

Antinuclear Society Demands Referendum On Revival Of Tatar Nuclear Station
In an interview published in "Vremya i dengi" on 31 October, the chairman of the Tatar Antinuclear Society, Albert Garapov, said Tatarstan's joining the Russian Union of Territories and Enterprises of Nuclear-Power Engineering (STIPAE) would cause a serious threat to the safety of the peoples of the Volga region, as it would result in the renewal of construction of the Tatar Nuclear Station. STIPAE is considering Tatarstan's appeal for entrance on 1 November (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 8 October 2002).

Restarting work on the Tatar Nuclear Station would be a direct violation of decisions made by the Tatar Supreme Council and the governments of Tatarstan, the Russian Federation, and the Soviet Union on continuing construction, Garapov said. He expressed concern especially at the fact that Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov has lobbied for the revival of the station. Visiting Saratov in September, Minnikhanov said atomic-power engineering has a big future in Tatarstan. Garapov said, however, that such a decision should not be adopted without a referendum.

Creation Movement Calls For End To Chechen War
The Creation civic organization has called for an end to the war in Chechnya and has appealed to Russian citizens to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to the stop the war, "Zvezda povolzhya" reported on 31 October. The group said it supports Putin's policy of fighting terrorism but added that for many Chechens, terrorism is an act of despair and protest against military action in their republic. Creation's statement also called on all of Russia's political parties and civic organizations to hold a joint antiwar demonstration on Moscow's Red Square on 16 November.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Antiterrorism Commission Urges More Vigilance From Republic's Residents
Bashkortostan's Antiterrorism Commission gathered on 31 October to discuss measures for tightening security in public places and in places of strategic importance in the wake of the recent hostage-taking incident in Moscow involving Chechen rebels (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24, 25, 26, 29, and 30 October 2002), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

Igor Chernokov, head of the Bashkir branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), who is also the head of the commission's operative headquarters, said at the meeting that, "Followers of radical, ethnic-religious organizations, especially those from the Chechen Republic, are the main threat to the republic's population." Chernokov said law-enforcement agencies are currently intensifying their activities around areas they consider to be possible targets of terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, a film shot by FSB agents that was shown at the meeting indicated that ordinary residents lacked vigilance in terms of terrorism prevention, as none of them reacted to suspicious-looking bags filled with wires that were deliberately left in various departments of Ufa's main shopping center and sports center. Commenting on the film, Chernokov urged citizens to "stay alert and pay more attention to suspicious objects."

Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov told the meeting that, "It would be wrong to expect terrorists to avoid Bashkortostan because it's a Muslim republic. We are a region of Russia, and militant threats concern us [just as much as any other region]."

LDPR Approves Of Reforms To System Of Government
The head of Bashkortostan's branch of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Igor Naumov, told reporters on 31 October that his party is preparing a list of proposals concerning the recently published draft constitution of Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 October 2002). Naumov said that he generally approved of the reform of the constitution and system of government, while he emphasized that his party had previously "made similar suggestions regarding former autonomous Soviet republics [such as Bashkortostan].

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi