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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 28, 2003

28 February 2003
Trade And Foreign Economic Cooperation Ministry Criticized For Low Investment
Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khefiz Salikhov told a ministry meeting on 26 February that Tatarstan's foreign-trade turnover increased in 2002 by 13.5 percent to 3.5 billion rubles ($111 million), reported the same day. Salikhov said an increase in oil exports, which makes up 61 percent of the republic's exports, is behind the growth. However, Tatarstan -- the Volga Federal District leader in terms of total foreign investment volume with $640 million, or 3.2 percent of the Russian total volume -- is behind Samara and Nizhnii Novgorod oblasts and Bashkortostan in terms of direct investment.

Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov criticized the ministry's work, saying the results are insipid compared to neighboring regions. He said the volume of direct foreign investment, $2.4 million, is so small that "we can say there is none at all." Tatarstan's potential, which is rated among the top 10 in Russia in low investment risk by the "Ekspert" weekly, to attract investments is not properly used, Minnikhanov said.

Kazan Official Denies Allegations Of Paying Bribe To UNESCO Officials
In an interview with "Kazanskie vedomosti" on 27 February, Lyudmila Andreeva, deputy chairwoman of the People's Deputy Council in Kazan, denied allegations against the Kazan administration and the Tatar leadership of bribing UNESCO Deputy Chairman Munir Bushenaki during his visit to Kazan in June 2001 to include the Kazan Kremlin on the list of UNESCO-protected historical monuments. Andreeva cited Kazan resident Aleksei Demin as saying he was told by an unidentified high-ranking official that Bushenaki was paid to include the Kazan Kremlin on the World Heritage List. Andreeva said Bushenaki did not take part in the decision making on the Kazan Kremlin as he is neither a member of the World Heritage committee or an expert.

Tatneft Seeks To Construct Oil Refinery In Leningrad Oblast
Tatneft plans to construct an oil refinery in Leningrad Oblast, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 26 February, citing AK&M. Leningrad Oblast Deputy Governor Grigorii Dvas told a press conference that Tatneft has appealed to the oblast government to allot land in Primorsk for construction of the refinery. In Tatarstan, Tatneft is building an oil refinery in Tuben Kama.

Krasnyi Vostok Enters Siberian Beer Market
The general director of the Krasnyi Vostok brewery, Airat Kheirullin, told a press conference that his company plans in early March to open a new brewery in Novosibirsk, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 20 February. The brewery, capable of producing 300 million liters of beer a year and costing some $120 million, was erected in 11 months. Krasnyi Vostok controls 8 percent of the Russian beer market.

Tatar Federal Bodies Open Common Website
A united website for federal bodies in Tatarstan ( has been created, Tatarinform reported on 20 February. The site represents the republic's 50 federal agencies, while previously only three of them had their own websites. The site provides information on federal legislation, events held by federal bodies, their staff, documents, and reports on their activities.

Drug Traffickers Convicted
Kazan's Wakhitov Raion court has sentenced two Yeshel Uzen residents, the Kobylnikov brothers, 27 and 17, to nine and five years in prison, respectively, with confiscation of property for trafficking and sale of hashish, reported on 28 February, citing the Tatar Interior Ministry. Both were members of a Yeshel Uzen organized crime group and for a long time were involved in delivering drugs coming from Central Asia and Afghanistan to Tuben Kama and then to Kazan and Yeshel Uzen. They were arrested on 30 July while selling 850 grams of hashish.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Opposition Paper Comments On Government, Upcoming Elections
The "Otechestvo" newspaper, which is published by the opposition Rus organization, commented on 20 February that the "republican government will have to face this year's parliamentary and presidential elections [in light of] the poor performance of the economy." The paper wrote that Bashkortostan's industrial facilities are breaking down at an increasing rate and also cited "a virtual absence of investments, growing wage arrears, and decreasing profits" as facts the government will have to face during election campaigns. "In such a situation, the government has nothing left to do besides holding debates on the Year of Sport, the Year of Health, or the Year of the Mother, since this bankrupt regime has nothing else to offer voters."

National Bank Notes Marked Increase In Savings
The Bashkir National Bank said that according to its data as of 1 January, republican residents have 19.6 billion rubles ($619.5 million) in bank accounts in the republic, which is an increase of 57 percent in comparison with the previous year, the AROMI news agency reported on 25 February. Republican branches of Russia's Sberbank hold 56 percent of all deposits.

Housing Sector Continues To Hand Out Subsidies Despite Debts
Bashkir Housing Minister Pavel Kachkaev told a meeting of ministry officials on 27 February that one in four residents of the republic received state subsidies for housing services in 2002, an RFE/RL correspondent and Russian news agencies reported the same day. Kachkaev said that some 850,000 people received subsidies totaling 490 million rubles last year despite the fact that republican residents still owe some 71 million rubles for services provided. Meanwhile, the companies providing housing services also owe more than 1 billion rubles in unpaid taxes and energy payments.

Ministry Tries To Revoke Parliamentarian's Immunity
The Bashkir Interior Ministry asked the republican Prosecutor's Office on 27 February to revoke the immunity from prosecution that the director of the Kuyurgaza distillery, Mokhemmet Nurgaliev, enjoys by virtue of being a member of Bashkortostan's State Assembly, RosBalt reported the same day. NurgAliyev is suspected of embezzling more than 7 million rubles from the plant, though police are unable to open an investigation because of his immunity.

French Company Buys Bashkir Sugar Plant
The French Jean Lyon company purchased on 27 February a 53 percent stake in the Revskii sugar plant for 157.7 million rubles, Bashinform and RIA-Novosti reported the same day. The republican government was the previous owner of the shares. Bashkir Deputy Agriculture Minister Flaris Sheykhetdinov told reporters following the auction that the new owner is not planning any layoffs at the factory.

Bashkir Customs Seizes Radioactive Equipment
Bashkir customs officials confiscated a shipment containing unidentified Chinese-produced equipment that was emitting excessive gamma radiation on 26 February, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. The equipment was sent to Moscow for further testing.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Chavash President Latest Victim Of National Bolshevik Cake-Throwers...
A member of the National Bolshevik Party (NBP) threw a cake at Chavash President Nikolai Fedorov on 25 February, RosBalt reported on 27 February, citing and Chavash media. The unidentified person threw the cake when Fedorov was leaving the Cheboksary Opera and Ballet Theater, saying "Regards from the NBP!" The cake soiled the sleeve of Fedorov's suit. The NBP in Chavashia press service confirmed the information, adding that the action was not prepared by the party's regional branch. On 27 January, a similar attack was made on Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Vadim Bulavinov.

...As Nizhnii Mayor Pardons His Offender
The charges filed against National Bolshevik Party in Nizhnii Novgorod member Nina Devyatkina, who threw a cake in Bulavinov's face on 27 January as a protest against housing and municipal-services reform, will be dropped (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 February 2003), the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 27 February. A Nizhnii Novgorod prosecutors' office investigator informed Devyatkina on 26 February that Bulavinov requested the charges against her be dropped. In a request to prosecutor's office, Devyatkina said she did not intend to insult an official representative but to protest the authorities' arbitrary rule.

Court Rejects Verdict On Marii El President's Defamation Suit
The Marii El Supreme Court has annulled the verdict of the Yoshkar-Ola court sentencing Vladimir Filichkin, the general director of the Yoshkar-Ola Timber Machine-Building Plant (Lesmash), to pay 7,000 rubles ($221) in compensation to Marii El President Leonid Markelov, reported on 24 February, citing the Yoshkar-Ola "Molodezhnyi kuryer" weekly. Markelov sued Filichkin for harming his honor, dignity, and business reputation after Filichkin criticized Markelov and his policy regarding Lesmash at a briefing in June. In his appeal, Filichkin called into doubt the impartiality of the court after a judge refused to accept a videotape of the briefing as evidence.

Russian, Lithuanian Social Democrats Sign Cooperation Accord
The leader of the Social Democratic Party of Russia (SDPR), Samara Oblast Governor Konstantin Titov, and Lithuania's Social Democratic Party Chairman (LSDP) and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas signed a cooperation agreement, reported on 25 February. Titov, who arrived in Lithuania on 20 February, took part in a plenum of LSDP, the agency said. Brazauskas told reporters after the signing ceremony that relations with Russian social democrats will now be of priority in LSDP's activity and at the next congress of the Socialistic International the LSDP will solicit for SDPR's admittance to that organization. SDPR has signed similar agreements with social democratic parties in France and Latvia.

Former Saratov Oblast Culture Minister Sentenced
On 21 February, the Saratov Oblast Court sentenced former oblast Culture Minister Yurii Grishchenko to two years in prison and deprived him of the right to serve in state or local government for one year, reported the same day. Grishchenko was convicted of taking $1,000 and 20,000 rubles ($633) in bribes from the director of the Anshlag-94 concert agency, Yulia Sherstyuk (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 29 November 2002). At the trial, Grishchenko partially admitted his guilt, saying the money was intended to compensate him for articles in the local media.

Saratov Oblast's Ayatskov First To Donate For Lenin Monument Restoration
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov donated 2,000 rubles ($63) toward the restoration of the Lenin monument in Saratov on 21 February (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 21 February 2003), reported the same day. Ayatskov, who was the first contributor to a special account opened for collecting money for the monument, had previously backed the initiative of oblast communists who proposed a month ago to restore the Lenin sculpture, which is in poor condition. Ayatskov's deputy, Aleksandr Mitroshin, followed his boss and transferred 1,000 rubles to the account. The project needs at least 50 million rubles.

Unified Russia Backs Rossel's Re-Election
Vladislav Reznik, a member of the Unified Russia General Council and the deputy head of the State Duma Unity faction, told a press conference in Yekaterinburg on 26 February that Unified Russia will support the re-election of Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel, Novyi region reported the next day. Reznik said, "Our positions coincide with Governor Rossel on practically all issues." Previously, Unified Russia opposed Rossel and promoted Nizhnii Tagil Metallurgy Plant General Director Sergei Nosov as its candidate in the next gubernatorial elections. The agency cited rumors that some time ago new agreements were reached between Rossel and Nosov that resulted in the latter's denial of his gubernatorial ambitions. Unified Russia's Sverdlovsk department representative, however, told the agency that Reznik's statement had not been agreed with the party's Executive Committee and General Council and was his private initiative.

1,500 Join Antiwar Demonstration In Tyumen Oblast
Some 1,500 people took part on 26 February in a meeting held by local branches of Unified Russia in the Poikovskii village of Tyumen Oblast to protest a possible U.S. attack against Iraq, Yugra-Inform reported the same day. The head of Unified Russia in Yugra, Aleksandr Sidorov, told the meeting that the war in Iraq will inevitably provoke a conflict along religious lines. The leader of the party's Nefteyugansk Raion political council, Aleksandr Osovskii, appealed to the participants saying, "Yesterday Yugoslavia, today Iraq, tomorrow Russia."

Budget Employees Protest
Some 9,000 Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast residents on 27 February joined the national protest by public-sector employees demanding that their salaries be increased by 50-100 percent, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported the same day. Some 1,000 students staged a protest demonstration in Kirov to demand that their grants be increased to 500 rubles ($16) while transport ticket prices be lowered, NTA Privolzhe reported on 27 February. The some 3,000 people demonstrated in Yekaterinburg, Novyi region reported the same day.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova