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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 30, 2003

30 September 2003
Tatneft Plans Cuts In Its Drilling Department
Tatneft's drilling units will gradually be withdrawn from the company because most of their potential is not being used, the oil company's first deputy general director, Chief Engineer Nail Ibrahimov, told Tatar-inform on 22 September. He said that the drilling teams are being prepared to become self-sufficient ventures and are seeking contracts outside Tatarstan. For example, the first such team recently began work in Kazakhstan.

Tatneft's annual drilling capacity is reported to be 1.3 million meters of oil wells per year, but in 2003 the company will have drilled only 980,000 meters. Instead of introducing new oil wells, the major Tatar oil company will reportedly focus on boosting the output of existing installations.

President Signs Laws On Future Parliamentary Elections
President Mintimer Shaimiev endorsed legislation on the date of the next parliamentary elections, preparations for the Tatar parliament vote, and the parliament's structure, the presidential press service reported the same day. Under the laws, which have already sailed through the Tatar State Council, 50 election districts within the republic will elect 100 deputies, half of them according to party lists; 20 of the deputies will work on a professional basis while 80 will be allowed to maintain their other occupations. The approved documents also move the date of the next parliamentary vote to the date of the Russian presidential elections on 14 March 2004. The five-year term of Tatarstan's State Council formally expires in December 2004. One-hundred and thirty deputies are currently in the council, 30 of them as professional politicians.

Minority Shareholder Questions Legality Of State Holding Company
Newport Capital has appealed to Tatarstan's Arbitration Court claiming that the establishment of the Svyazinvestneftekhim holding company by the Tatar government in May is illegal, the "Vremya i Dengi" daily wrote on 24 September. Newport Capital is registered in the Caribbean islands off-shore zone and has an office in Kolomna, Moscow Oblast. The state-owned holding was created in order to stimulate investment in the Tatar economy. It pooled state-owned shares packages from 18 major republican industries at a total cost of $1.2 billion. The industries include the Tatneft oil concern and the Kazanorgsintez chemical plant, in which Newport Capital owns 0.1 percent and 0.57 percent shares respectively. On 28 September, the Arbitration Court will consider the suit, which alleges that the Tatar government, despite the federal law on privatization, failed to disclose information on the planned handover of share packages, as well as the cost of the deal.

Shaimiev To Take Leave From Presidency Before Duma Election Campaign
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, who was nominated to the Unified Russia party's country-wide list for the State Duma elections, will have to temporarily give up his presidential powers until election day on 7 December, the "Zvezda Povolzhya" weekly wrote on 25 September (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 22 September 2003) .Under federal law, executive officials who come out as party candidates are not allowed to combine the candidate status with their jobs. The weekly also hinted that most likely Shaimiev will serve only as a promotional figure for the party, because even if elected he is unlikely to swap the presidential office for a State Duma deputy's seat. Shaimiev reportedly had left for a vacation in Turkey on 24 September.

Ukraine Confirms Interest In Developing Cooperation With Tatarstan
Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin on 25 September attended an exhibition of major Tatar industries in the Kyiv national exhibition center, reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 September 2003). Chernomyrdin told reporters at the event that Ukraine "needs Tatarstan's industrial produce and is interested in developing its cooperation with the republic." Yanukovich agreed with this statement, noting that the majority of current bilateral cooperation concerns oil processing, while there is a strong potential for cooperation in the machine industry. The prime minister said that the Tatar-produced KamAZ trucks were very popular in his country. Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said during the exhibition that the republic would be interested in importing Ukrainian-produced metals, energy industry equipment, and further developing cooperation in the aviation industry. Both the Ukrainian prime minister and the Russian ambassador agreed to visit Kazan in late 2003.

Muslim Women Concerned With Teachers' Appearance
A group of Muslim women has appealed to the Tatar education minister to enforce stricter standards of dress for teachers in schools and kindergartens, reported on 26 September. Elmira Edietullina, the chairwoman of the Muslim Women's Society, said teachers wearing miniskirts do not help the moral education of schoolchildren. The Muslim women have also appealed to the Tatar culture minister and heads of the republic's television companies, complaining about television broadcasts, which they say corrupt youth by propagating the cult of violence.

In an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 27 September, Anatolii Pinskii, an adviser at the Russian Education Ministry, said that the Muslim women's move was "a signal that should not be ignored." Pinskii said the appeal may reflect the opinions of a number of the republic's residents and it should be considered. "A teacher's appearance is an important factor in the educational process," he said, adding that the issue is to be regulated by the regional authorities.

Congress Of Chemists Gathers In Kazan
The 17th Mendeleev congress on general and applied chemistry ended its five-day program on 26 September in Kazan, Tatar-inform and reported. From the 18 countries that took part in the conference, there were 1,200 scholars, including two Nobel Prize winners, in attendance. Pavel Sarkisov, the president of the Mendeleev Russian Chemical Society, said that for the first time presidents of chemical societies from the countries of the CIS, Baltic states, and from Europe, Asia, and America had a chance to meet at the congress. Participants agreed to establish a Russian-French laboratory on supra-molecular chemistry and biology. The forum also recommended that ties between institutions of higher education and secondary schools be intensified.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan's Tatars Call On Shaimiev Not To Support Rakhimov...
Visiting Kazan the previous week, Elfir Saqaev, head of the newly established Tatar civic group Unity, met with Tatar officials to deliver an appeal to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev from a group of officials and public leaders from Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 21 September. The appeal read that during the rule of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, there has been oppression against Tatars and enforced "Bashkirization." Brotherly relations, the appeal continued, between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan have been destroyed. The authors called on the Tatar president not to back the candidacy of Rakhimov in the Bashkir presidential election.

...As SPS Considers Him Best Candidate...
The Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) is backing Rakhimov in the presidential election, SPS leader Andrei Vulf said visiting Ufa on 19 September, the Agency of Electronic News reported the same day. "If it is he whom the people of Bashkortostan would like to see as the republic's leader, one should respect that choice," Vulf said.

...As Does Supreme Mufti
Telget Tajetdin, the supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, told the "Bashkortostan" daily on 12 September that there is no reason to look for a replacement for Rakhimov. "If he decides to run, we religious leaders will be sincerely glad," Tajetdin said.

Another Opposition Leader Announces Bashkir Presidential Ambition...
Aleksandr Arinin, a leader of the Bashkir opposition and head of the Equality civic group, told RosBalt on 22 September that he plans to run for the Bashkir presidency. Arinin said he will take part in the race as an independent candidate despite the fact that several political parties, including Yabloko and the Motherland National-Patriotic Union, the leftist bloc headed by Duma deputy Sergei Glazev, have supported him. Arinin also said he will pay special attention to making sure the election is free and fair. He said two observers from Bashkortostan's opposition as well as foreign representatives will supervise the vote in all electoral districts. Arinin, 48, has already run for the Bashkir presidency in 1998 but was twice refused registration as a candidate by the republic's Central Election Commission. In 1993-1999, Arinin was a State Duma deputy.

...As KPRF Nominates Its Candidate In Race
Former State Duma deputy Resul Shugurov will be the Communist Party's (KPRF) candidate for the Bashkir presidency, RosBalt reported on 22 September. The decision was passed at a KPRF conference in Bashkortostan held in Ufa on 20 September. Shugurov will also ballot for the State Duma in the Kumertau single-mandate electoral district. Bashkir Communists will put forward candidates in all of the republic's six single-mandate districts. Another five representatives are included in federal party lists. After the completion of his 1995-1999 term in the State Duma, Shugurov, a 53-year-old ethnic Bashkir, worked in the business sector in Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast.

Mezhprombank Former Board Head Joins Bashkir Presidential Race...
Mezhprombank founder and former Chairman of the Board Sergei Veremeenko held on 25 September a press conference in the Interfax office in Moscow to announce that he will run for the Bashkir presidency to be held on 7 December. Veremeenko said he "was wise enough to consult the Kremlin" on the issue. He also said the move "is not result of his personal conflict with [Murtaza] Rakhimov, whom he still treats with great respect," but originated from his disagreement with Rakhimov's policies. Accompanied by speeches in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Veremeenko asserted that a regime has formed in the republic that is based on the restriction of rights and freedom, arbitrary actions by police, and oppression of the opposition and the independent press, adding that free elections have never been held in the republic. Veremeenko said that the privatization of the petrochemical sector in Bashkortostan was illegal, adding that these transactions will be reviewed after he becomes president. He also said he is inspired not by political ambitions but by an eagerness to help his "native Bashkortostan, an inalienable part of great Russia." After becoming president, Veremeenko said he will seek "to overcome stagnation in the economy" and to democratize public and political life in the republic. Veremeenko said Mezhprombank will not finance his campaign as he "is quite a well-to-do person." He said he hopes for support from Unified Russia and does not plan to appeal for help from oligarchs in order to "not be indebted to anyone." Asked whether he speaks Bashkir, Veremeenko said, "the Bashkir textbook is only 70 pages," so if he needs to, he will easily learn it. He added, however, that in today's world it is more important to know English than Bashkir or Tatar.

...As Do Senator, Opposition Leader
Relif Safin, the Federation Council senator from the Altai Republic and former LUKoil vice president, officially informed the Bashkir Central Election Commission (CEC) on 23 September about his intention to run for the Bashkir presidency, RosBalt reported. On 25 September, similar notification was given to the CEC by the leader of the Equality civic movement, Aleksandr Arinin.

Rakhimov Tops Unified Russia List In Bashkortostan
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov will head the Bashkir regional list of the Unified Russia party in the December State Duma elections, RosBalt reported on 22 September. The decision was passed at the 20 September congress of Unified Russia in Moscow. Unified Russia representatives in Bashkortostan said that Rakhimov, who is a member of the Unified Russia Supreme Council, will not run for the State Duma but will "personify Unified Russia in the republic." Rostem Ekhmedinurov, the deputy head of the branch's executive committee, said the branch has still not nominated its candidate for the Bashkir presidential elections, adding that the issue will be clarified in a couple of weeks.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Journalist Wins Defamation Suit Against Colleague
A court in Nizhnevartovsk, in the Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug, has ordered that Vyacheslav Semiryakov, editor in chief of the local newspaper "Semeinyi byudzhet," pay 30,000 rubles ($980) in compensation for moral harm inflicted on Zoya Krivolapova, the head of the local branch of the Russian Journalists Union (SZhR), reported on 23 September. The court also ordered that Semiryakov publicly apologize to Krivolapova. In a 29 November 2002 article published in "Semeinyi byudzhet," the author made "insulting" parallels between members of the local branch of the SZhR and characters in a story written by the famous Russian humorist Anton Chekhov.

Senator From Kurgan Oblast Announces Presidential Ambitions
Andrei Vikharev, a Federation Council senator from Kurgan Oblast, who lost a Sverdlovsk Oblast gubernatorial campaign in September, said on 23 September he will run for the Russian presidency in 2004, Novyi Region reported the same day, citing the press service of the Kurgan Oblast Duma. Vikharev was criticized by some deputies for being busier with his electoral campaign in Sverdlovsk than with promoting the interests of Kurgan in Moscow. Deputies, however, did not vote to recall Vikharev from the Federation Council and considered his report "satisfactory." Vikharev said the regional elections are only a starting point for him, adding that he will join the Russian presidential race in 2004.

Perm Governor Promotes Construction Of Chemical Facility
Perm Oblast Governor Yurii Trutnev confirmed that a new facility utilizing solid-fuel rockets is under construction in the region, UralBiznesKonsalting reported on 24 September. Five companies from the oblast are expected to be involved. The project will create 500 new jobs and attract 6.7 billion rubles ($219 million) in investments.

Unified Russia Targeted In 'Dirty' Electoral Campaign
State Duma Security Committee Deputy Chairman Yurii Tsybakin said on 25 September in Yekaterinburg that law-enforcement bodies and security services had prevented a dirty-tricks campaign against Unified Russia, Novyi Region reported the same day, citing representatives of law-enforcement bodies. According to Tsybakin, a large print run of a book by Russian satirist Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin with illustrations featuring President Vladimir Putin, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov was about to be distributed throughout Russia's largest cities, including Kazan, Samara, Perm, Novosibirsk, and Omsk. The book, written in 1885 and titled "Three Didactic Stories About What May Happen If Nitwits, Lickspittles, And Loafers Are Permitted Power," was an attack on autocratic power in the Russian Empire. Reportedly 350,000 copies of the book were printed by the Krasnoyarsk-based publishing house Ofset. The order was placed by the Moscow-based ART Pryuss company.

Rossel Recalls Idea Of Ural Republic...
Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel told a School of Public Policy forum in Yekaterinburg that the Ural Republic has not been abolished, since a presidential decree was unable to annul the results of a referendum, Novyi Region reported on 25 September. In the 12 April 1993 referendum, more than 80 percent of the oblast's population voted for the oblast to become a republic. In October 1993, the oblast council approved a constitution of the Ural Republic and Rossel announced that a new subject was established. However, on 10 November 1993, then-President Boris Yeltsin annulled the decision and dismissed Rossel from his post. Speaking at the forum, Rossel said the Ural Republic was set up to eliminate inequalities among federation subjects. He added that, under the 1993 Russian Constitution, oblasts and krais fared worse than republics.

...Proposes That Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan Oblasts Merge
Speaking at the same forum, Rossel suggested that a new federation subject be formed on the basis of a merger of the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, and Kurgan oblasts, Novyi Region reported on 25 September. Rossel said such a merger was necessary as too many krais and oblasts are not economically self-sufficient. Rossel was unreceptive to the idea of just merging with the Kurgan Oblast, an agrarian region with almost no industry, saying that the Sverdlovsk Oblast's budget could not cope with the burden. By merging all three oblasts, he said, it would create "a strong subject capable of resolving all the problems." Rossel said that he would be prepared to run as the new subject's head.

Soldier Spends Military Service As Slave
Filyus Ravidov, a soldier on trial for larceny, was kept in "slavery" during the 18 months of his military service, Uralinformbyuro reported on 23 September. On 12 September, the Sverdlovsk Oblast's Verkhnyaya Pyshma Raion court sentenced Ravidov to one year of corrective work. During the trial, it was revealed that Ravidov was reportedly sold to a local farmer by an officer. After the farmer decided to prolong the soldier's "service" during the haymaking season, Ravidov went into the farmer's house to retrieve his military card and stole 1,500 rubles ($49) to buy civilian clothes. He was later captured.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova