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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 11, 1999

11 March 1999
Swedish Delegation Ends Kazan Visit
Tatarstan's State Council chairman, Farid Mukhametshin, and the Swedish ambassador to Russia, Swen Hierdman, held talks on 10 March in Kazan. The two discussed the republic's governmental structure, its relations with Moscow, interethnic relations, and the functioning of the State Council and local authorities, Tatar radio reported. Mukhametshin told the press after the meeting that the negotiations were important for the development of possible cooperation between the KamAZ and Volvo truck concerns. The previous day, Swedish businessmen and bankers met with representatives of several of Tatarstan's main enterprises --KamAZ, the Kazan helicopter plant, Kazan's Gorbunov air industrial association, the Kazan engine-building factory, and Kazanorgsintez chemical works. The Swedish side expressed special interest in the MI-17 helicopter as well as some aircraft models, Tatarinform reported.

Chechen Official Warns Against Use Of Force
Chechnya's plenipotentiary representative in Tatarstan, Umar Ayupov, said in an interview with Tatar-inform on 10 March that harsh measures against Chechen criminal groups promised by Russian authorities would hurt civilians in Chechnya but not the republic's criminals. Ayupov was commenting on a statement by Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin regarding the kidnapping of General Gennadii Shpigun, the Russian Interior Ministry's representative in Chechnya. Stepashin said that if Shpigun was not freed Moscow would cut trade and transport links with Chechnya, along with energy supplies and financial aid to the republic. Ayupov said criminal groups in Chechnya possess powerful diesel engines as well as money, and they will not suffer if energy supplies are cut off. He said the "areas where criminal groups gather" which, according to Stepashin, will "be annihilated," are usually "markets with plenty of old people, women, and children missing limbs."

KamAZ Wants To Cooperate With Volvo
Tatarstan's first deputy prime minister, Ravil Muratov, said on 9 March that the Swedish concern Volvo may become a partner of the KamAZ truck plant. Muratov said at a press conference upon his return from Sweden that he studied prospects of cooperation between KamAZ and Volvo during his visit. Muratov said Volvo is one of several possible strategic partners being considered for KamAZ; another is DaimlerChrysler.

Government Says Internal Debt Will Be Repaid By 2000
Valerii Sorokin, head of Tatarstan's Agency for Operation with State Debt, said in an interview with Tatar-inform that the republic's internal debt will be repaid by the end of 1999. Sorokin said Standard & Poor's rating agency gave Tatarstan a new CD (selective default) rating, the same level that was given to the Russian Federation, Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast, and some Moscow banks. Sorokin said that on 17 August, Tatarstan's internal debt was 1.2 billion rubles ($50 million). He added that some 75 percent of the 84 million rubles owed to citizens, and 20 percent of the 370 million rubles owed to Tatarstan's judicial workers have been paid, with the rest of those debts to be paid by August and December, respectively. He said terms for repaying the third part of the debt, which totals 700 million rubles and is owed externally, are being negotiated with creditors alongside with Tatarstan's "direct" external debts.

Assassination Attempt Against TV Director Being Investigated
Law enforcement officials are investigating different motives behind the recent explosion the seriously injured Yevgenii Kapustin, the director of the Chally Efir-Invest television company, Tatar radio reported. Three others were lightly injured in the explosion. One possible reason for the assassination attempt involves financial disputes between the company's former director and the Kazan Efir television company. Another motive is connected to Kapustin's former activity as an employee of the Interior Board, whose activities targeted criminal groups in Chally. Officials are also not ruling out the possibility that Kapustin was not targeted in the explosion. They report that the homemade bomb that exploded was not powerful enough to kill someone.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova