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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 27, 2005

27 September 2005
Tatarstan's Ombudsman Law A Model For Russia
Tatarstan's law on human rights representatives is being used as a model for the draft federal law on the activities of ombudsmen Russia's federal entities, reported on 17 September. This was reported at a conference on the development of Russian entity's human rights representatives, or ombudsmen, that ended in Sochi on 16 September. A meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Russian ombudsman and human rights representatives was held within the framework of the conference to discuss the draft law. The draft will be given to Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and will then be introduced to the Russian State Duma

Kulikovo Battle Celebrations Spark Controversy
Celebrations marking the 625th anniversary of the Battle of Kulikovo were held in Tula Oblast on 17-18 September, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 19 September. Tatar civic groups have criticized the celebrations of the battle in which Russians defeated Tatars. The groups have argued that holding the celebrations could create interethnic tension in the republic. In a recent survey carried out by the Public Opinion Fund (FOM), 47 percent of people questioned didn't think the jubilee should be celebrated. During a 19 September phone-in devoted to the Kulikovo battle, 74 percent of listeners considered it dangerous to mark such events in a multiethnic country.

Tatarstan Deputy Proposed As First Deputy State Duma Speaker
The Unified Russia faction of the Russian State Duma on 19 September backed the candidacy of Oleg Morozov, currently the State Duma deputy speaker and a deputy representing Tatarstan, to the post of the first deputy speaker, Tatar-inform reported on 20 September. State Duma Commission on Rules and Organizing Work Chairman Oleg Kovalev told the news agency that Morozov will be in charge of "cooperation of the lower chamber of Russia's State Assembly with the government and the presidential administration as well as holding plenary sessions of the State Duma." Morozov told reporters that he will maintain his post as head of a subgroup of the Unified Russia faction. The Duma is to vote on Morozov's candidacy on 21 September.

Tatneft Accused Of Halting Oil Deliveries To Ukrtatnafta
Poltava Oblast State Administration Chairman Stepan Bulba told a press conference on 21 September that Tatarstan has stopped oil deliveries to the Kremenchug Oil Refinery, which belongs to the Tatar-Ukrainian joint venture Ukrtatnafta, Ukrainskie novosti reported the same day. Bulba said it was agreed with Ukrtatnafta and Tatneft heads during his visit to Tatarstan on 18 August that Tatarstan will fully satisfy the Kremenchug plant's oil needs, but the Tatar side has changed its mind in the wake of the 6 September court verdict that annulled purchase of 18 percent of Ukrtatnafta by Tatneft affiliates, SeaGroup International and AmRuz Trading, as a result of which Tatarstan lost a controlling interest in the venture (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 8 September 2005). Bulba added that Ukrtatnafta provided 43 percent of industrial production volume in Poltava Oblast so the oblast will face sharp decline in industrial production.

Weekly: Staying In Russia Unprofitable For Tatarstan
"Zvezda povolzhya" Editor in Chief Reshid Ekhmetov wrote in an editorial published on 22 September that rising global oil prices make it fiscally irresponsible for Tatarstan to remain in the Russian Federation. Ekhmetov calculated that Tatarstan pays Russia $8 billion of the $12 billion it earns each year from oil production, describing the situation as "neocolonialism." Ekhmetov noted that the entire five-year federal program on preparations for the Kazan millennium cost $1 billion, and he speculated that if Tatarstan were to reduce its annual payouts to Russia by that amount every year it could pump that money into its infrastructure and new building and hold such celebrations every year. Ekhmetov predicted that Moscow will seek to take over Tatneft to deprive the republic of an economic basis for sovereignty.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Communists Fail To Hold Informal Referendum In Bashkortostan
Despite previous announcements on holding an unofficial public referendum in Russia on 16 September, in many cities the Communists failed to effectively organize the plebiscite, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 19 September. Bashkortostan was among the regions where the daily's reporters failed to find any polling activists, though the republic's Communist Party claimed that its activists conducted the referendum in all major public places.

Blagoveshchensk Victims Sue Police
Ufa's Kirov Raion Court will consider on 3 October a complaint by victims of the December 2004 Blagoveshchensk police raid against the republic's Interior Ministry, which refused to hold an investigation into misconduct of responsible police offers, "Moskovskii komsomolets v Ufe" reported on 19 September.

Prosecutors Halt Proceedings Against Bashneft
Bashkortostan's Prosecutor's Office ended its investigation into the business practices of the Bashneft oil company, which was suspected of the illegal extraction of oil at 52 deposits in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 21 September.

The case was brought up in December on 2004 based on allegations that Bashneft exceeded officially approved extraction levels. However, investigators later discovered that licenses obtained by Bashneft had no maximum extraction output listed, and the oil company's activities did not lead to uncontrolled losses of oil.

Bashneft's annual oil production based on 160 deposits across the republic is reported to be between 11-12 million tons. Forty percent of the company's shares are managed by the private company under the control of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov's son, Ural, and the Institute of Regional Economics and Law; 20 more percent is owned by the Sistema group of companies. Minor shareholders include Bashkortostan's Ministry of Property Relations.

Bashkortostan Prepares For 15th Anniversary Of 'Sovereignty'
Bashkortostan will celebrate on 11 October the 15th anniversary of the adoption of its declaration of sovereignty, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 September, citing the speaker of Bashkortostan's parliament, Konstantin Tolkachev.

Four years after the 1990 adoption of the declaration, Bashkortostan signed a treaty on the delegation of powers between the republican and federal governments. According to recent reports in the republican media, 72 percent of the tax revenues collected in the republic are transferred to the federal budget. In the first nine months of 2005 these transfers amounted to some $2.8 billion, which is two times higher than the total amount of transfers in the same period in 2004.

Famous Bashkir Poet Dies
Famous Bashkir poet Mostai Kerim died on the night of 20-21 September at the age of 85 from a heart attack, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 21 September. The author of many masterpieces of Bashkir literature, Kerim is also known as a World War II hero and a prominent public figure. His health was seriously impaired by his war wounds, and his life became more difficult after the recent death of his wife.

Native Of Bashkortostan Detained On Terrorism Charges
The Udmurtiya branch of the Federal Security Service and Chechen Prosecutor's Office personnel have detained Mokhemmed Nebuillin, a native of Bashkortostan who is suspected of serving with militant groups in the North Caucasus, Regnum reported on 22 September. Nebuillin is said to have been hiding in the Udmurtiya's city of Sarapul, where he was arrested.

Prosecutor: No Chance To Reverse Petrochemical Complex Privatization Deals
Bashkortostan's chief prosecutor, Aleksandr Konovalov, told reporters on 22 September that he believes there is no legal chance to reverse the deals that privatized the state-owned shares in the republic's petrochemical industries, Russian media reported the same day.

Starting in 1993, the shares were managed by Bashneftekhim Holding. In 1999, Bashkortostan's Ministry of State Property gave the shares to Bashkirskaya Toplivnaya Kompaniya (BTK). In 2002, President Murtaza Rakhimov authorized the sell-off of the BTK shares to the Bashkirskii Kapital company, which is controlled by his son, Ural.

The announcement by Konovalov reportedly brought relief to the Sistema group of companies, which in August 2005 purchased from Bashkirskii Kapital a 19.9 percent share of Bashneft and four local oil refineries; 18.6 percent of shares in Bashnefteprodukt; and a 10.08 percent package in Bashkirenergo for $502 million.

According to unnamed analysts cited by "Vedomosti" on 23 September, the prosecutor's decision was influenced by the republican government, which supported the sell-off.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

German Ambassador Praises Russian Efforts To Destroy Chemical Weapons
Germany's plenipotentiary ambassador to Russia, Juergen Schmid, said on 20 September that Russia has made "big progress" in the implementation of a national program to eliminate chemical weapons, Regnum reported on 21 September. Schmid made his comments at a meeting with presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, Sergei Kirienko, in Moscow. Schmid listed operations of a plant in Saratov Oblast's Gornyi village and a facility to destroy chemical weapons in Udmurtia's Kambarka that is under construction with the active participation of the German side. Schmid also said "studying Germany's possible participation in the construction of a plant to destroy chemical weapons in Penza Oblast's Leonidovka village is in progress." Kirienko added: "Germany is our most stable partner in the process of annihilation of poisonous substances. The Russian-German cooperation on this issue is always listed as an example to leaders of other countries co-sponsoring the process of destroying chemical weapons."

Kirov Oblast Legislative Speaker Found Dead
The chairman of the Kirov Oblast legislative assembly, Valerii Kaisin, was found dead of a possible suicide on the night of 24 September, Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 25 September, citing the oblast Interior Directorate. Kaisin's body was found in his garage. Early indications were that Kaisin shot himself, investigators suggested.

Meanwhile, the chief assistant to oblast prosecutor, Anna Savinykh, told Interfax-Povolzhe on 26 September that a criminal case was filed suggesting negligence. "Inspection of the scene of the incident, the body, and the carbine provided grounds to suggest that the death was the result of negligence," Savinykh said.

Hepatitis Spreads In Nizhnii
One thousand sixty-six residents, including 218 children under the age of 14, have been hospitalized in Nizhnii Novgorod since the beginning of the current hepatitis-A outbreak, Interfax-Ural reported on 26 September, citing the press service of the Volga-Ural Regional Center of Civil Defense and Emergency Situations. Some 922 patients remain in hospital. Meanwhile, 45 residents, including 10 children, have been hospitalized with the same diagnosis in Dzerzhinsk, which is 50 kilometers from Nizhnii Novgorod. Some 36,000 people have been vaccinated against the disease in Nizhnii Novgorod.

Mountain Ski Resort To Be Erected In Nizhnii
The Nizhnii Novgorod administration and Austrian businessman Artur Doppelmayr have signed a protocol on intentions to construct a mountain ski resort in Nizhnii Novgorod in the next five years, Regnum reported on 21 September. Sergei Fedulov, head of the Krasivyi gorod company that will be working on the project under Doppelmayr's patronage, told a news conference the same day that the initial cost estimate of the facility is 13 million euros. Construction will include five stages, the first of which will start this fall and will cost 2 million euros. Capacity will be some 2,000 visitors.

Finnish Company To Invest In Pulp, Paper Plant In Sverdlovsk Oblast
The Finnish Ruukki Group Oy concern will construct a pulp and paper plant in Sverdlovsk Oblast capable of processing 500,000 tons of cellulose a year, Uralinformbyuro reported on 23 September, citing the oblast Industry, Power Engineering and Science Ministry's press service. The facility will be located in Novaya Lyalya, where a plot of 50 hectares has already been allocated for the project. The Finnish side is expected to invest 1 billion euros in the construction that is expected to be finished within three years.

Ruukki Group Oy is one of Europe's leading companies investing in woodwork.

Kyrgyz Student Beaten In Yekaterinburg...
The Kyrgyz consul-general to Yekaterinburg has sent a note to the local representation of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry in reaction to the beating of a Kyrgyz student in Yekaterinburg, acting consul-general Chingiz Kubanychbekov told Interfax-Ural on 21 September. The letter calls on the office to promote an investigation of the incident and take measures to prevent similar cases in the future, Kubanychbekov said. The consul-general also appealed to the Sverdlovsk Oblast Interior Directorate to investigate. On 15 September, an 18-year-old Kyrgyz student of Ural State Economic University was beaten by undergraduates. A group of Russian students reportedly assaulted him, suggesting the young man should return to his "motherland."

...As Two Koreans Are Killed In Nizhnii
The body of a North Korean construction worker was found in Nizhnii Novgorod on the evening of 23 September, Interfax reported on 24 September, citing Nizhnii Novgorod law-enforcement agencies. The man appeared to have died of knife wounds. A fellow North Korean, also a construction worker, was found wounded nearby and later died in hospital. Prosecutors have filed a criminal case.

Army Crime Rate On The Rise
The Yekaterinburg garrison military court has considered 200 criminal cases so far this year, 60 percent of which alleged harassment of subordinates (dedovshchina), Uralinformbyuro reported on 21 September. Twenty officers, 58 sergeants, and nine ensigns have been convicted of harassment during this period. Court Chairman Vladimir Bozrov said that since the abolition of guardrooms, the violent treatment of subordinates became more widespread in the army.

Meanwhile, the Yekaterinburg-based civic group Against Violence's coordinator, Gleb Edelev, told Regnum on 22 September that the true figures on such crimes in the army is hundreds of times what official data suggest, since "only the most imprudent crimes fall under criminal persecution."

Hungary Establishes Trade Representation To Yekaterinburg
Hungary will open a trade mission in Yekaterinburg, Regnum reported on 20 September, citing the Sverdlovsk Oblast gubernatorial Information Policy Department. A corresponding agreement has been reached between the two sides on the issue. Opening Hungary's consul-general and direct flights between Budapest and Yekaterinburg are also on the agenda.

Mortar Round Found In Sverdlovsk School...
A mortar round was found in a Nizhnii Tagil school on 19 September, Regnum reported on 20 September, citing the oblast Interior Directorate spokesman Valerii Gorelykh. The round, which was reportedly discovered by a guard in a locker room, had been fired but had not detonated. Schoolchildren and teachers were evacuated and the explosive was removed for destruction. An investigation is under way.

...And Explosive In Another One
A replica explosive was discovered by a watchman near a school in the village of Alapaevo in Sverdlovsk Oblast on 18 September, Regnum reported on 19 September, citing the oblast Interior Directorate. Policemen and sappers inspected a bag and a parcel connected with wires and containing a bottle with broken glass, chargers, and a condenser. The material could not have exploded, experts were quoted as saying.

Knife Attack On Nefteyugansk Deputy Mayor
Nefteyugansk First Deputy Mayor Dmitrii Yegortsev -- who had been serving recently as acting mayor -- was assaulted on 20 September, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. Yegortsev suffered a knife wound to his stomach by an unknown assailant in his home, was hospitalized and underwent surgery. On 20 September, Nefteyugansk Mayor Igor Gribanov interrupted his vacation to return to the city. Yegortsev has been serving as first deputy mayor since 2000 and was in charge of the economy and budget issues.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova