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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 1, 2003

1 July 2003
Government Discusses Measures To Raise Efficiency Of Tatarstan's Representations Abroad
The Cabinet of Ministers discussed on 23 June the efficiency of Tatarstan's representations in Russia and abroad, Tatar-inform and reported the same day. Ten of the republic's 23 representations are profitable, while others in 2003 have been given 57.3 million rubles ($1.9 million) in subsidies from the republican budget. At the meeting, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov called for the adoption of a republican law on Tatar representations. He also said that not all of the representations carry out with their main function, which is the promotion of Tatar goods and services and attracting investments to the republic. Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov said the republic's foreign-trade turnover has doubled in the past four years -- exceeding the last decade's maximum of 43.5 billion rubles.

Speaker Promotes Legal Conditions For Activities Of Regional Constitutional Courts
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin delivered a report on the legislative regulation of the constitutional courts of Russian Federation entities at Russian Legislators Council Presidium meeting on 23 June, Tatar-inform reported the next day. Mukhametshin pointed out that constitutional justice in federation entities should be regulated not only by regional but also by federal legislation and called for the adoption of a corresponding federal law, a proposal that presidium members supported. Mukhametshin said the establishment of constitutional courts will be obligatory for all Russian territorial entities, though some governors fear the appearance of constitutional courts, which often limit the powers of the executive branch. Mukhametshin also said that the constitutional courts of federation subjects should be charged with considering issues on conformity between the constitutions and the charters of entities and their agreements with other regions and local self-government bodies. On 24 June, Mukhametshin took part in a meeting of the Russian Legislative Council, which discussed the issue of food safety and the development of the agro-industrial industry and land reform in Russia.

Russian Railways Minister Visits Kazan
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Russian Railways Minister Gennadii Fadeev discussed on 25 June in Kazan bilateral cooperation, Tatarinform and reported. A protocol on leasing of 250 million rubles ($8.2 million) in production was signed after the negotiations, RosBalt reported the same day, citing the ministry press service. According to the document, which came in the wake of the May 2002 agreement on social and economic partnership between Tatarstan and the Railways Ministry, the Gorkii Railway will lease two new electric trains, 15 KamAZ vehicles, and 14 compressors. The sides also discussed the establishment of a logistics center in Tatarstan. Commenting on the negotiations, Shaimiev said Tatarstan has recently purchased a total of six new trains and built and reconstructed railway stations in Bua, Sviyazhsk, Archa, and Shemordan. Shaimiev said he agreed with Fadeev on large orders for Tatar machine-building companies from the Railways Ministry. Speaking at a ceremony bestowing two new trains to Tatarstan at the Kazan railway station, Fadeev said the ministry proposed that Tatar industrial enterprises supply it with tank trucks, carriages, vans, and spare parts. The ministry spends 50 billion ruble on spare parts a year, and Tatarstan could get the lion's share of it, Fadeev said.

Protest March Against Construction Of Nuclear Power Plant Starts In Tatarstan
A three-day march to protest unfreezing the construction of the Tatar Nuclear Power Station (AES) in Kama Alany begins in Tatarstan on 28 June, Al-inform reported on 26 June. The action will involve representatives of the Tatar Anti-Nuclear Society, the Tatar Public Center, participants in the clean-up operations at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, Afghan war veterans, environmentalists, and students. After starting on 28 June in the central square of Alabuga, the march will move the next day to Chally, and on 30 June to Tuben Kama where participants plan to encamp on 1 July. Meanwhile, the "Zvezda Povolzhya" weekly reported on 26 June that the Chally administration has banned the meeting and only a picket will be staged in the city. The construction of the AES, in which $700 million has been invested, was frozen in the early 1990s in the wake of protests. Environmentalists argue that the station is located on a tectonic break. Currently the Tatar government seeks to revive the project and plans to renew the construction in 2010.

TAIF Plans To Take Over Kazanorgsintez
Seven representatives of the Tatar-American Investments and Finances (TAIF) company were elected to the observation council of Kazanorgsintez at the company's annual shareholders' meeting on 26 June, while TAIF General Manager Albert Shihabetdinov became council chairman, AK&M reported the same day. Previously TAIF -- the company in which Radik Shaimiev, the son of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, is an adviser to the chairman of the board -- had two of its representatives in the 13-member council. Nail Yusupov was reelected as general director of the company. Yusupov told the meeting that the prices of Kazanorgsintez production dropped in 2002 by 1.3 percent, while the company's profit fell by 13.6 percent because of the lower demand for polyethylene. Shihabetdinov told the meeting following the election that TAIF plans to increase its stake in the company from the current 19 percent to 51 percent by 2004 and to become its strategic investor. Kazanorgsintez controls 38 percent of the Russian polyethylene market, produces 46 percent of Russia's polyethylene pipes, 21 percent of phenol, and 22 percent of acetone. The Tatar government possesses a 26.6 percent stake in Kazanorgzintez.

Will The Tatar Parliament Be Unicameral or Bicameral?
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said on 28 June that a model of Tatarstan's next parliament will be determined at a meeting to be held in early July, reported the same day. The State Council has developed two draft laws, in which two models of parliament -- unicameral and bicameral -- are specified. Mukhametshin said he had consulted Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov about the possibility of a bicameral parliament, adding that he himself backs that model. Asked about which chamber he will join in the case of a bicameral legislature is chosen, Mukhametshin said, "with my experience, it would be foolish to go to the upper chamber. It is necessary to join the lower one where the most difficult work...will take place." The Tatar parliament passed on 5 September 2002 a draft law on the election of Tatar State Council deputies, under which the republic's parliament would be unicameral with 50 deputies. The draft, however, was then excluded from the agenda of the State Council's November session. Under a bicameral legislative body, half of the representatives in the lower chamber would come from political parties; the other half would be elected in one-mandate districts. The upper chamber would include representatives of administrative-territorial entities.

Tatneft Holds Shareholders' Meeting
Speaking at the Tatneft annual shareholders' meeting on 27 June in Elmet, General Director Shefeget Takhawetdinov said the oil company's major results in the past year include launching a basic complex at the Tuben Kama oil refinery, passing the corporate management code, maintaining oil production at the previous year's level of 24.6 million tons, repayment of the $300 million Eurobonds debt and the $112 million debt to the Paris Club of creditors, Solid-info reported the same day. Tatneft and the Credit Suisse First Boson bank signed a five-year $200 million credit agreement, Takhawetdinov said. At the meeting it was decided to pay 100 percent dividends on privileged shares and 10 percent on ordinary shares. The Ernst & Young Vneshaudit company was appointed as Tatneft's auditor and the Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov was reelected head of the company's board.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Election Commission Again Refuses To Register Opposition Candidate As Parliamentary Deputy
The Bashkir Central Election Commission (CEC) has appealed to the Russian Supreme Court against the 9 June verdict by the Bashkir Supreme Court obliging the commission to register Anatolii Dubovskii, the leader of the opposition political movement Rus, as a Bashkir State Assembly deputy and to publish the election results in the republic's media, RosBalt reported on 23 June. Dubovskii won the 16 March parliamentary elections in the Ufa Chernikovskii electoral district with 31.6 percent of the vote. However, although the local election commission approved the results, the Bashkir CEC annulled them in response to a complaint by Dubovskii's competitors who said that not all voters were able to take part in the elections because the electricity was switched off at several polling stations.

Personnel Rearrangements In Cabinet Of Ministers
President Murtaza Rakhimov on 24 June appointed Reshit Sattarov, the former head of the Russian Tax Ministry's Bashkir Directorate, as deputy prime minister and construction, architecture, and transport minister, Bashinform reported the same day. Sattarov, 43, was dismissed from the same post on 12 March by Russian Tax Minister Gennadii Bukaev for "non-implementation of official duties" after he opposed the position of the ministry, which had accused Bashkir oil refineries of evading payment of 10 billion rubles ($329 million) in taxes. The Bashkir Supreme Court ruled on 11 June that Sattarov's dismissal was legal (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 March, 2, 5, 12 May, and 12 June 2003). The post of the construction, architecture, and transport minister fell vacant in April when Ramil Mirseev, the then-minister, was dismissed by Rakhimov.

Interior Ministry Initiates Audits In Mezhprombank, Gazprom Local Offices
Bashkir First Deputy Interior Minister Nikolai Patrikeev told a press conference on 24 June that large-scale audits will be conducted in the near future in the Ufa branch of Mezhprombank and Gazprom's local branch, Bashtransgaz. The measure is part of an investigation into a fraud case involving 2.1 million rubles ($69,238) worth of Mezhprombank promissory notes, Patrikeev said. He added that employees of the Bashkir National Bank will conduct the Mezhprombank audit, while Gazprom workers will be responsible for the same process in Bashtransgaz.

President Rakhimov Visits UNIDO Headquarters
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov left on 24 June for Austria for a three-day visit at the invitation by UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) General Director Karlos Magarinyos, Bashinform reported on 25 June. The Bashkir delegation is to discuss with the UNIDO leadership amendments to the April 2000 bilateral agreement on the establishment of a trust fund to which Bashkortostan was supposed to contribute $100,000. Cooperation between the republic and UNIDO is based on a 1999 cooperation agreement and five-year program on increasing Bashkortostan's industrial potential and competitiveness. The program includes measures for support of industry, industrial partnership, and protection of the republic's environment. Specifically, UNIDO took part in financing the construction of the Yumaguzy reservoir in Bashkortostan.

Environmentalists Protest Construction Of Ishtugan Reservoir
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 24 June, the deputy chairman of the Russian Environment Protection Organization's Bashkir Council, Boris Pavlov, sharply criticized the construction of the Ishtugan reservoir. He said it was being built in violation of the law on the territory of a national park. Pavlov said the facility will cause irreplaceable damage in the republic and may result in flooding the cities of Meleuz, Salawat, and Sterletamaq and dozens of villages in the area. Pavlov said the Bashkir authorities were guided by business interests when passing the decision on the reservoir construction. He also said his organization had appealed to the Russian president, the Russian government, and the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office to protest the construction but had received no answer.

Ex-Bashtransgaz Head Takes Over Tax Directorate
Aleksandr Veremeenko, one of the main opponents of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, who was dismissed a week ago from the post of Bashtransgaz general director, was appointed on 26 June by Russian Tax Minister Gennadii Bukaev to head the ministry's Bashkir Directorate, Russian media reported. Veremeenko told "Kommersant" on 28 June that he considers the "struggle for the priority of Russian financial laws in Bashkortostan" his major task at the new post. "Vedomosti" cited on 30 June unnamed sources in the Bashkir presidential administration and in Gazprom as saying that it was Rakhimov who insisted on Veremeenko's firing from the Gazprom Bashkir branch because of his political activity. Following the dismissal, according to a source in the Russian presidential administration cited by "Vedomosti," Sergei Veremeenko, the former head of Mezhprombank and the brother of Aleksandr Veremeenko, began "demanding satisfaction from his high-ranking friends" and lobbied for Aleksandr's appointment as Russian deputy presidential administration head in charge of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. The position of the Bashkir Directorate head fell vacant after its former head, Reshit Sattarov, was sacked in March for promoting Bashkortostan's interests in its conflict with the ministry over the issue of some 10 billion rubles ($329 million) the ministry claims the Bashkir oil refineries owe to the federal authorities. The Bashkir authorities have repeatedly accused Tax Minister Bukaev of helping Sergei Veremeenko to take over Bashkir oil refineries. The head of the Bashkir presidential administration, Marat Yamalov, told "Vedomosti" on 30 June that Bukaev's decision is "demonstratively cynical" and this is "a challenge to the Bashkir leadership and an insult to the republic."

Tatars Begin Alternative Census
Several of Bashkortostan's Tatar civic groups have started an alternative census in the republic, "Izvestia" reported on 30 June. The idea came at the founding congress of the Tatar People's Front (TMF) on 1 June. TMF leader Zahir Khekimov said the alternative census aims to obtain "true" data about the ethnic composition of Bashkortostan's population. Tatar organizations have said that violations occurring in the nationwide survey last October resulted in many Tatars being forced to register as Bashkirs. Khekimov says if the results of the alternative census differ from official data, then they will appeal against the October census results in court. According to the 1989 census, 39 percent of Bashkortostan's population were Russians; 28 percent, Tatars; and 22 percent, Bashkirs.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Disabled To Obtain Special Bus In Saransk
The Mordovian Supreme Court on 27 June upheld an appeal by Saransk resident Aleksandr Solomatin to oblige the administration of the Mordovian capital to provide a special microbus for free transportation for disabled people, reported the same day. The new vehicle will be equipped to seat people in wheelchairs. A special traffic control service is to be arranged in the city so people can arrange pick-ups.

Former Raion Administration Head Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison In Nizhnii
The Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Court sentenced on 26 June the former head of Nizhnii Novgorod's Kanavin Raion administration, Vyacheslav Sashchenkov, to seven years of imprisonment for repeated bribe taking, NTA Privolzhe reported on 27 June. Sashchenkov will also have to pay 70,000 rubles ($2,300) in compensation for damages and an additional 11,000 rubles costs. Sashchenkov was arrested as he was accepting $20,000. Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Vadim Bulavinov told a briefing on 27 June that he was expecting that Sashchenkov would be given a lighter sentence. "I am sure that Sashchenkov was fulfilling somebody's will and that the money was not designed for his personal enrichment," Bulavinov said.

Majority In Komi-Permyak Okrug Support Merger With Perm Oblast
Speaking at a meeting of deputies, Gennadii Savelev, the head of the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug, said 68 percent of okrug residents back the merger of the okrug with Perm Oblast, Novyi Region (Perm) reported on 27 June. Savelev cited data from a recent poll according to which 87 percent of those questioned said they are going to take part in a referendum on the issue. Savelev also said that this current year the okrug was allocated an additional 350.7 million rubles ($11.6 million) for the merger, while the previous year, subsidies from the federal budget to the entity totaled 79.3 million rubles.

Court Restores Sverdlovsk Oblast Deputy Speaker To His Post
A Yekaterinburg court ruled on 25 June to restore Sverdlovsk Oblast Duma Deputy Speaker Nikolai Yezerskii to his post, Novyi Region reported the same day. Yezerskii was dismissed on 23 April after missing a Duma session because he was away on a business trip (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 30 April 2003). Yezerskii told the news agency that the court took into account that deputies had violated regulations when passing the decision and had violated his labor rights.

Anticorruption Body Head Accused Of Bribe Taking
The Ural Federal District's Prosecutors' Office has accused a senior employee of the Anticorruption Department of the Russian Interior Ministry's Tyumen Oblast Directorate of accepting a $4,000 bribe from a businessman, reported on 27 June, citing the Ural Federal District Prosecutors' Office press service. The name of the official was not given.

Will Ulyanovsk's Shamanov Make Way For Borodin?
Ulyanovsk Oblast Governor Vladimir Shamanov may leave his post by the end of the year, reported on 24 June, citing the "Simbirskii kuryer" newspaper. The outlet cited an unnamed source in the oblast administration, who said the issue of Shamanov's pre-term resignation has been resolved. The paper continued that Shamanov will give free passage to Pavel Borodin, the secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union. The paper said Borodin's participation the previous week in a jubilee of the Ulyanovsk Agricultural Institute, for which he donated money, looked like the beginning of his electoral campaign in the oblast. Borodin, however, denied that.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova