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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 23, 2001

23 November 2001
Kirienko Says Terrorists Fight For Muslims' Souls
In an interview published in "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 22 November, the presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Sergei Kirienko, said that equating Islam with the more radical Islamists is like equating European civilization with fascism. He said Christianity and Islam had enjoyed 300 years of peaceful coexistence in the Volga region. Kirienko stressed that the leaders of national republics in the Volga district have never sought secession from Russia, and their promotion of special status for their regions is in no way liked to religion. Kirienko called the establishment of Russia's first Islamic University in Tatarstan a "wise decision."

Kirienko also said the 11 September terrorist attack was a provocation by radical Islamists trying to attract moderate Muslims to their side and to draw the world into a religion-based war. He added that radicals could purport to represent any religion or nation. NATO has become an old-fashioned body that is unable to maintain security in the world, he said, praising United States efforts on the establishment of a coalition uniting the European community and traditional Islamic countries.

Kirienko said it is traditional Islam rather than Christianity that can provide the main ideological response to radical Islam. Orthodoxy and traditional Russian Islam are much closer to each other than Catholicism and "pure" world Islam, he added.

Minnikhanov Visits Finland, Sweden
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov is on a visit to Finland to discuss bilateral cooperation, Tatar-inform reported on 22 November. Minnikhanov is due to attend polythene companies and meet Russia's ambassador to Finland, Aleksandr Patsev. He will leave for Sweden on 23 November, the agency said.

Opposition Calls For Dissolution Of Parliament
Activists from Tatarstan's opposition parties on 21 November staged a rally near the State Council building to demand the dissolution of the parliament, which was in plenary session, Efir-Inform reported. Communist leader Robert Sadykov said the State Council cannot be considered legitimate, as executive-branch leaders are among its members. Supporters of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia promoted a common legal environment and a single, Russian constitution. Meanwhile, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 22 November that Airat Sharipov, leader of the Creation political movement, called State Council deputies "traitors to the interests of the multinational people of Tatarstan" at a 17 November meeting that attracted 1,500 participants. Sharipov called on President Mintimer Shaimiev to fight for Tatarstan's sovereignty.

Izhevsk Unhappy With Proposed Terms Of Reservoir Deal
Representatives from Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Udmurtia on 22 November discussed the possibility of raising the level of the Tuben Kama reservoir from 62 to 68 meters, Udmurtia reported. Udmurtia's government disagreed with the initial proposal, under which Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Udmurtia would receive 46, 46, and 8 percent of the additional profits, respectively. Udmurtia wants profits divided equally, the agency said. The Udmurt Republic also wants 13 billion rubles compensation for the project, compared to the 4.6 billion rubles it was offered.

Muratov Joins Russia-Wide Business Forum
A Tatarstan delegation headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov is taking part in an assembly of Russian business representatives in Moscow, Tatar-inform reported on 22 November. Muratov is due to deliver a report devoted to the role of businesses in the formation of civil society in Russia. A group of journalists from Tatarstan will join a roundtable discussion on the role of authority and mass media in the information sector.

Tatneft's Profit Predicted To Fall
Tatneft's net profit under U.S. GAAP standards may fall by between $100 million and $150 million year-on-year in 2001 -- to between $700 million and $750 million -- Interfax-ANI reported on 22 November. Meanwhile, net profits totaled $500 million in the first half of the year, up 15 percent on the level a year ago. That earnings growth came thanks to a 10-percent reduction in tax payments, while the fall is being blamed on a fall in oil prices.

Meanwhile, Tatneft General Manager Shafagat Takhautdinov told reporters the same day that cutting oil extraction in Tatarstan, if it takes place at all, will be slight and involve only some selected wells.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Nemtsov Calls On Rakhimov, Shaimiev To Mediate Chechnya Peace Talks
Visiting Ufa on 22 November, Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) leader Boris Nemtsov offered Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev the role of mediators in peace talks between Moscow and Chechen fighters, "Kommersant" reported.

Bashkortostan, Fiat To Open Joint Assembly Line In Sterletamaq
President Rakhimov visited Italy on 16-19 November to discuss cooperation between Bashkir companies and Fiat, the presidential press service reported. The sides agreed on the establishment of a joint venture to assemble New-Holland combines at the Inmash concern in Sterletamaq. Spare parts for vehicles will also be produced in Bashkortostan. Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev, who also took part in the talks, called the agreement "a historically significant event."

Turkey Ready To Create Small, Medium-Sized Businesses In Bashkortostan
Turkish State Minister Abdulhalyuq Mehmet Chai said his country is prepared to establish tens of small and medium-sized businesses in Bashkortostan and provide them with necessary investments, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 November. Chai said Turkey is seeking to make a contribution to the celebration of two significant jubilees in the Turkic world: the 250th anniversary of Bashkir national hero Salavat Yulaev and Kazan's millennium. Minister Chai and Bashkortostan Deputy Prime Minister Rafil Garifullin signed a cooperation protocol the same day.

Bashkortostan Issues Bonds On MMVB
Deputy Prime Minister Foat Khantimerov said Bashkortostan plans to float 1 billion rubles in debt on the Moscow Inter-Bank Stock Exchange (MMVB) on 29 November, reported on 22 November. He said the funds will be invested in economic projects, including the Polief polythene plant in Blagoveshchensk, a sport-shoe factory in Meleuz, and reconstruction of stone-processing facilities. Khantimerov claimed the republic does not have internal or foreign debts, adding that a fall in oil prices will not significantly affect Bashkortostan's 2002 budget since oil provides only 16 percent of all budget revenues. He said that portion could fall to 10-12 percent.

Decision On Construction Of Bashkir Nuclear Station Said Final
Bashkortostan Academy of Sciences President and Duma Deputy Robert Nigmatulin told reporters on 21 November that the decision by Rosenergoatom to unfreeze the construction of the Bashkir nuclear station in Agidel is final. He said roughly 10 times the current year's investment of 30 million rubles ($1 million) will be allocated for the project next year.

Nigmatulin also suggested that the share of wages in GNP be increased in order to overcome an overproduction crisis that Russia is facing. He also criticized the revision in inter-budget relations between Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Moscow, saying it resulted in several billion rubles lost for these republics.

Ufa Seeks To Continue Underground Construction
The cabinet on 22 November discussed the status of the Ufa underground construction, Bashinform reported. Ufa administration head Rauf Nugumanov said the federal government stopped financing the project this year. However, the cabinet decided to continue preparatory works for the construction. The first line of the subway is to be finished in 2007 under the original plan, while the second would be completed by 2010.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova