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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 6, 2004

6 July 2004
Tatneft Group Wins Syrian Tire Contract
The Tatneft group has won a tender to deliver tires to Syria, RIA-Novosti reported on 28 June, citing the Tatneft press service. Tatneft Deputy General Director Khamit Khaveev said Tatneft's Nizhnekamskshina subsidiary will deliver 3,000 tires under the deal, the first tender ever won by the group in Syria, at a value of $500,000. Khaveev also said the company has fulfilled two Iraqi contracts under which it delivered 12,000 tires at a total price of 1.7 million euros ($2 million).

Kazakh President Visits Kazan...
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev arrived in Kazan on 29 June, Tatar and Russian news agencies reported. Nazarbaev's visit is expected to include negotiations with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and participation in an international conference on the Eurasianism legacy of Lev Gumilev. Nazarbaev will also visit Kazan's Gorbunov Aviation Plant for an industrial exposition.

...And Officials Discuss Industrial Cooperation
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov met with Kazakh Industry and Trade Minister Adilbek Jaksybekov on 29 June, reported. The two discussed a joint project on the lease of vehicles between KamAZ and Kazakhstan's three machine-building companies, the production in Kazakhstan of buses on KamAZ chassis, participation of the Kazan Helicopter Plant in repairs of Mi-8 and Mi-8MT helicopters in Kazakhstan, and the possible purchase by Kazakhstan of Tatar-made helicopters. Bilateral trade turnover grew by 74 percent, to $127 million, in 2003.

Results Of Prime Minister's Belarus Visit Announced
Officials announced the results of a 22-23 June visit to Belarus by Tatarstan's Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov at a cabinet briefing on 29 June, Tatarinform reported the same day. Following Minnikhanov's meeting with representatives of Belarus's Tatar diaspora, which numbers about 10,000, it was decided to launch transmission of Tatarstan's TNV channel in Belarus and to open a direct railway link between Minsk and Kazan. The Tatar government, together with Tatneft and Ak Bars Bank, will also seek to allocate 2.5 million rubles ($86,000) toward the construction of a mosque in Minsk. Representatives of the Tatar diaspora were invited to take part in celebrations of Tatarstan's Republic Day on 30 August. On a bilateral level, Tatar and Belarusian officials signed an intergovernment agreement on trade, economic, scientific, technical, and cultural cooperation that extends a similar document signed 12 years ago. Nizhnekamskneftekhim's deliveries of petrochemical products to Belarusian companies will also be extended, and the Minsk Tractor will deliver parts to YelAZ for the assembly of 5,000 tractors a year. The opening of an Ak Bars Bank subsidiary in Belarus and cooperation in machine-tool construction and telecommunications sectors were also on the agenda.

Kazakh President's Visit To Tatarstan Continues
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who is on a three-day visit to Tatarstan, met on 30 June with his Tatar counterpart Mintimer Shaimiev, took part in a conference on Eurasianism, and attended an exposition at the Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant, Tatar and Russian media reported. Nazarbaev said during a press conference following his talks with Shaimiev that trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Russia grew in 2003 by 30 percent to $5.3 billion, but added that Tatarstan accounts for only $150 million of that amount, which he described as "too small." Nazarbaev said Tatarstan is Russia's strongest region, and that the republic can do much to increase trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Russia. He called for cooperation between Kazakh manufacturers with Tatarstan's KamAZ truckmaker, petrochemical companies, and aircraft-construction industry. Shaimiev thanked Nazarbaev for the support that the 230,000-stong Tatar diaspora living in Kazakhstan receives. Asked whether Kazakhstan will introduce a Latin script, Nazarbaev said this is possible in the future but that such a transition would be gradual process. Delivering a speech at a conference on Eurasianism, Nazarbaev said spiritual integration between Turkic peoples is needed in the current era of globalization to maintain unity, integrity of languages, and common cultures. The presidents agreed that days of Tatarstan in Kazakhstan will be held in late 2004 and days of Kazakhstan in Tatarstan will be held next year.

German Citizen's Lawyer Criticizes His Client's Treatment
Lawyer Sergei Pronin, who is representing German citizen Uve Kruger who is accused of illegally purchasing explosives, said at a 30 June hearing at the Tuben Kama city court that it took him two months to find where Kruger was being kept and that his client had to begin a hunger strike to demand that he be allowed to meet with his lawyer, and "Kommersant-Povolzhe" reported on 30 June and 1 July, respectively. The court at its previous hearing on 26 April satisfied Pronin's appeal that Kruger be moved to his own cell at the Tuben Kama detention facility. But the prosecutor's office in fact moved Kruger to the Minzele pretrial detention facility. Pronin said he was not informed about his location and could not meet with him. Pronin demanded that Kruger receive a medical exam. However, based on the opinions of doctors at the courtroom, the court ruled that he does not need a medical examination. Pronin told "Kommersant-Povolzhe" on 1 July that Kruger plans to make public instances of violations of his rights and will send his appeal to Russian media outlets. Tuben Kama Deputy Prosecutor Olga Kupova told the daily that Pronin's efforts to meet with his client were not hindered, and that Kruger's rights have not been violated. Kruger came to Russia as a tourist and was arrested on 6 May 2003. He reportedly said he sought explosives because he planned to destroy his home in order to receive an insurance settlement.

Audit Chamber Head, Members Appointed
Tatarstan's State Council on 1 June confirmed Aleksei Demidov, head of Alekseevskii Raion administration and deputy speaker in the previous State Council, as chairman of the Audit Chamber, Tatar media reported. The law on the Audit Chamber was passed by the parliament in June. Demidov was nominated by President Mintimer Shaimiev, who described him as an honest man of principle. Shaimiev and State Council speaker Farid Mukhametshin said they have no ties with Demidov, as is required by law. Ilnur Moberekov, Damir Shamgunov, and Sergei Kolodnikov were approved as chamber auditors, while Seriye Welieva became deputy chairwoman. All have worked in the Finance Ministry. Shaimiev said that the presidential Supervision Board is abolished with the formation of the Audit Chamber and all its functions are passed to the latter.

Businessman Sentenced To Prison For Delaying Wages
Businessman Aleksandr Novodvorskii, former head of a privately owned housing and municipal-services company in Kazan's Moscow Raion, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for failure to pay wages on time, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 1 June. Novodvorskii was sued by employees of his company whom he owed 350,000 rubles in back wages. An assistant to Moscow Raion prosecutor Airat Ekhmetshin, who demanded a two-year sentence, told the daily that he is satisfied that the businessman was sentenced to a real, not conditional term.

Muslim Women Fight Against Obscene Ads
Tatarstan's Union of Muslim Women appealed to Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov to remove obscene street advertisements, reported on 1 July. The activists demand that ads featuring naked women be removed from the streets and a special body on supervision of morality in advertising be formed.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Compensation For Bashkir Air-Crash Victims Disputed
Zolfet Khammatov, head of a committee of parents of children lost in the July 2002 midair collision of a DHL cargo jet and a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet, has denied that the victims' families have agreed to an out of court settlement, RIA-Novosti reported on 29 June. RIA-Novosti reported on 29 June that Yuliya Fedotova, who heads another group of families of crash victims, said the families had agreed to $150,000 in compensation for each child killed in the crash (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 June 2004). Such a proposal was agreed upon at a meeting in Potsdam between lawyers representing the Swiss air-traffic-control service Skyguide and those representing relatives of the victims, according to the German newspaper "Stuttgarter Nachrichten." Khammatov said Fedotova spoke for only 20 parents, while another 29 parents are in favor of taking the compensation issue to court.

Federal, Bashkir Ministries Reach Agreement On Property Use
Bashkir Deputy Property Relations Minister Khelil Alibakov told RosBalt on 28 June that the Russian and Bashkir property relations ministries have agree to share property used by the Ufa International Airport and Bashkir Airlines. Alibakov said a joint commission will be established in a short time to deal with the issue. Bashkortostan has won several lawsuits in which the federal government sought 100 percent of the properties used by Bashkir aviation companies, Alibakov said. "Despite this, we are ready to accept the federal center's proposal and resolve the issue by consent." Bashkortostan's authorities insist that property used by aviation companies fully or partially funded out of the republican budget -- including Ufa airport's international terminal for which the republic invested some $10 million -- should be divided "fairly." Bashkir Airlines and Ufa International Airport were made subordinate to federal authorities in 2002, and were included in the 2004 plan of privatization.

Canada Credits UralSib
The UralSib bank has received a $13 million loan from the Canadian Export Development Corporation, RosBalt reported on 29 June. The loan has been issued for a three-year term to finance the export of boring equipment from Canada for an UralSib client. UralSib was established in 1993 by the Bashkir government and now has capital of 7.6 billion rubles ($261 million). The Bashkir government maintains a 20 percent stake in the bank while 75 percent of its shares belong to the NIKoil investment group. The bank has over 330 offices in 70 Russian cities.

Officers Arrested For Narcotics Trafficking
A group of officers from the Ufa military garrison allegedly involved in narcotics trafficking were arrested in a joint operation of the Interior Ministry's Anti-Organized Crime Board and the Federal Security Service's Military Counterintelligence, RBK reported on 28 June, citing the press service of the Bashkir Interior Ministry. Eleven kilograms of marijuana were found in the officer's possession. The names of the officers have not been reported.

Direct Flight To Start Between Ufa And Vienna
A direct flight from Ufa to Vienna will be opened, RosBalt reported on 30 June, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. The agreement was made after President Murtaza Rakhimov visited Austria on 26-29 June and discussed the project with the Austrian vice chancellor and other officials. Both sides agreed that details of the project will be on the agenda of the vice chancellor's planned visit to Bashkortostan.

UralSib, Bashkir Government Sign Cooperation Agreement
Two major shareholders of the UralSib bank -- the financial corporation UralSib and the Bashkir government -- have agreed on further cooperation, according to a document signed on 30 June by UralSib President Nikolai Tsvetkov and Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov. UralSib will attract investments to republican projects, including the federal socioeconomic development program in Bashkortostan, up until 2006. On 29 June, the annual shareholders meeting of the UralSib bank upheld the bank's merger with the NIKoil investment bank and Avtobank-NIKoil. Tsvetkov said the corporation has opened a mortgage crediting center in Ufa. Shareholders decided to allocate 20 percent of the company's net 770 million rubles ($26.5 million) profit for repayment of dividends. The Bashkir government is represented in the bank's new board of directors by Prime Minister Baidavletov, Finance Minister Airat Geskerov, Property Relations Minister Zofer Ebdrekhimov, and Economic Development and Industry Minister Valentin Vlasov. The shareholders meeting elected also a new observation council of the bank from which UralSib's former President Azat Qormanaev was expelled.

Kazakh President Visits Ufa
Tatarstan and Bashkortostan will take on the leading role in developing relations between Russia and Kazakhstan, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said on 1 July while visiting Ufa, RosBalt reported the same day. Nazarbaev said the two Russian republics and Kazakhstan have common Turkic origin, similar economies, agriculture, and cultures, adding that "all this should promote developing relations between Russia and Kazakhstan." He also called for removing mediating structures between subjects of economic activities of Russian regions and Kazakhstan. Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said he is not satisfied with the volume of trade between Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan and said he pins his hopes on the visit of Nazarbaev to Ufa and a new intergovernmental agreement between Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, which was discussed during Putin's visit to Astana. At their meeting the same day, Rakhimov and Nazarbaev agreed on the opening of a Bashkir representation in Astana. The leaders also reached agreement on deliveries of Kazakh petrochemicals to Bashkir oil refineries, joint production of fertilizers, and taking environmental measures to increase agricultural fertility. Journalists in Bashkortostan were not given any opportunity to meet with President Nazarbaev and ask him questions, though permission was granted to some journalists questions prepared several days before the visit, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 1 July.

Relatives Of 30 Air-Crash Victims Appeal To U.S., Spanish Courts
American lawyer Gustavo E. Fuentes appealed to courts in the United States and Spain on behalf of 30 families of victims of the July 2002 midair collision over Lake Constance, Germany, RosBalt reported on 1 July, citing Zolfet Khammatov, a representative of the families. Khammatov said, "Our main aim is not to obtain maximum compensation for damages but to punish those guilty." He added that 30 families did not agree with the proposal by Skyguide to pay $150,000 for each victim. "We consider the size of payment as the degree of recognition of the guilt by Swiss air-traffic controllers so we think the sums of compensation should be determined by a court," Khammatov said. Fuentes said Spanish or U.S. courts will be able to provide maximum compensation and added that all the compensation figures proposed by Skyguide are "unacceptable."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Marii El Opposition Leaders Appeal To Putin Against Markelov
A group of political and civic leaders from Marii El have appealed to President Vladimir Putin in a verbal attack on the leadership of republican President Leonid Markelov, saying the republic looks to be on the verge of disaster, Regnum reported on 28 June. A former first deputy head of the Marii El government, the editors in chief of the "Dobrye sosedi" and the "Yoshkar-Ola" newspapers, the chairman of the All-Marii regional council, the chairman of the Unity Party in Marii El, and Marii El State Assembly Deputy V. Vorontsov called in the appeal for the appointment to the republican presidency of Marii El Lieutenant General Ivan Teterin, who heads the southern regional center of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. The appeal's signatories claimed the republic's financial network is increasingly dependent on federal subsidies and internal indebtedness. They said subsidies from the federal budget increased more than fourfold in 2000-03 and that the state debt totaled 3.4 times the 2000 figure by January of this year, while the republic's internally generated revenues in 2003 were 2.4 times the figure from 2000. The signatories concluded that the republic is effectively bankrupt.

Marii El Official Wins Defamation Suit Against Newspaper
Marii El Finance Minister Yevgenii Ryzhakov has won a defamation suit against the "Dobrye sosedi" newspaper, Regnum reported on 1 July. In the article titled "Where Did 179 Million Rubles from the Republic's Budget Disappear?" on 16 March, the paper claimed that "the current government has forgotten how to count budget resources, and the Republic of Marii El is incurring huge moral and economic damage" as a result. A Yoshkar-Ola City court ordered the paper to recant within a month the information on the same page in the same print and print run.

Marii El NGO Charges Torture By Security Forces
The co-chairman of Marii El human rights group People and the Law, Sergei Poduzov, appealed to the leadership of republican law-enforcement bodies in light of evidence of tortures committed by security employees, Regnum reported on 30 June. Poduzov said his NGO has received accounts of torture through the use of electrical shock, suffocation, manipulation, and beatings by employees of the Yoshkar-Ola Zarechnyi Interior Department. He said evidence of such torture was sent to republican prosecutors and passed to the Yoshkar-Ola prosecutor's office in May, but there has been no response. Poduzov cited one case in which an individual was taken to the department in December 2001 in his underwear despite the fact that the temperature outside was minus 21 degrees Celsius; the detainee was then sent home in the same state.

Samara Gubernatorial Elections Set For September
A Samara Oblast court has fixed the date for the oblast's gubernatorial elections as 19 September, and other news agencies reported on 1 July. The decision came in response to an appeal by Samara Gubernia Duma Deputy Natalya Bobrova, who claimed that the current gubernatorial term of Konstantin Titov expires on 2 July 2004 rather than next summer (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 29 July 2004). "Kommersant" on 1 July cited analysts saying earlier elections will boost Titov's hopes for reelection to a new term. "Kommersant" suggested that Samara Mayor Georgii Limanskii, former Vice Governor and State Duma Deputy Viktor Kazakov (Unified Russia), and Samara Gubernia Duma Deputy Viktor Tarkhov might run, while Gubernia Duma Speaker Viktor Sazonov might become a "pro-governor" candidate to affect the outcome. An ad hoc election commission due to be formed by the Russian Central Election Commission within 17 days will conduct the elections, as the oblast's current election commission is prohibited from organizing elections ordered by a court.

Assault On Opposition Journalist In Saratov
Editor in Chief of "Novye vremena v Saratove" and Saratov writer Sergei Borovikov was assaulted on 29 June, Regnum reported on 1 July. An unknown assailant reportedly attacked Borovikov from behind and tried to snatch a portfolio from his hands. Passersby reportedly prompted the attacker to flee. Borovikov linked the assault to his professional activities, noting that his paper is critical of both to city and oblast authorities.

U.S. Tank Used To Tout Russian Arms At Nizhnii Tagil Expo
A U.S.-made M48 Patton tank was displayed in advertising for the Russian Expo Arms-2004 exhibition that is due to be held in Nizhnii Tagil to highlight the best of the Russian arms industry, Novyi region reported on 29 June. Advertising agency Ekipazh reportedly featured the U.S.-made tank in place of a T-90C, produced by the Nizhnii Tagil Uralvagonzavod, in promotional material welcoming visitors to the event. Ekipazh representatives said the flyer's design was approved by the Nizhnii Tagil administration and Uralvagonzavod. For their part, Nizhnii Tagil administration officials said the advertising company and Uralvagonzavod are responsible for the incident, as "the former led astray the customer while the latter classified as a secret its activities to such an extent that it is impossible to work with it in the advertising sector." An unnamed source in the administration said Uralvagonzavod categorically refuses to divulge features of its tanks as classified information.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova