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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 12, 2002

12 July 2002
Shaimiev Urges Federal Support To Aircraft Industry
President Mintimer Shaimiev told Interfax on 10 July that in his opinion, "with the proper support by the state of the domestic aircraft industry over the next 2-3 years Russia may have its own [new] aircraft models [technically] equal to their Western counterparts." The Tatar president said that different types of airplanes of international standards have been proposed in Russia, but "various commercial structures not interested in developing the domestic aircraft industry continue lobbying for the purchase of foreign aircraft." He reminded journalists that during the recent visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to Tatarstan and President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Volga district governors in Saransk, Mordovia, this issue was raised for discussion and regional leaders agreed that Russia's air industry needed state support just as much as the automotive one, including the raising of import tariffs. Shaimiev noted that the "decision already prepared by the Russian government for settling these issues has an encouraging outlook."

Meanwhile, the same day Interfax cited French Foreign Minister Dominic de Vilpen as saluting the intentions of Russia's biggest air company, Aeroflot, to lease the middle range A-320 carriers produced by European Airbus Industries, though Aeroflot's board of directors has not yet finally approved the deal.

Zenith And Aq Bars Bank Postpone Merger
The chairman of the board of directors of Moscow's Zenith Bank and Tatarstan's Aq Bars Bank, Aleksei Sokolov and Robert Musin, respectively, made a public statement on 8 July saying that the two banks will not merge for at least the next two years, "because [we first] have to get a full idea of all possible risks that are inevitable following a deal of such [a big] scale," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The statement ends the recent wave of reports predicting a merger of the Moscow-based bank and the official financial agent of Tatarstan's government.

Tatenergo Seeks To Retrieve Debt From Consumers
Energy consumers in Tatarstan currently owe the Tatenergo company 2.5 billion rubles ($80.6 million) for the consumed energy, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 12 July, citing the company's Energosbit service. Tatenergo's major debtor among industrial enterprises -- the Kazan gunpowder plant -- has been cut off from power for more than one month already, while on 8 July the Yashel Uzen city administration immediately reacted to that day's full switch off of its electricity, including industrial companies and residences, by paying 1 million rubles ($32,000) of its 15 million ruble ($483,900) debt to Tatenergo.

KamAZ, Kurgan Oblast Seek To Boost Ties
The deputy general director of KamAZ, Faiz Khafizov, met Kurgan Oblast Governor Oleg Bogomolov on 9 July to discuss the terms of a future contract between the automotive giant and the oblast's government that will establish direct supplies of KamAZ trucks chasses for production of road tankers (a type of truck), special-road construction vehicles, and fire-brigade trucks by Kurgan companies, Ural-press-inform reported the same day. This oblast is currently the major purchaser of the KamAZ chassis buying 5,000 units each year.

Tatarstan-Slovak Commission Considers Bilateral Cooperation
Tatarstan's deputy minister of trade and foreign economic cooperation, Rinat Urazaev, arrived in Bratislava, Slovakia on 8 July to take part in a meeting of the Tatarstan-Slovak commission on bilateral trade and economic and scientific cooperation, reported the same day. The commission is to discuss the current projects of Slovak packing, construction, and furniture companies in Tatarstan and the activities of its Tuben Kama Oil Chemical Company (Nizhnekamskneftekhim) in Slovakia.

Slovakia was Tatarstan's sixth major foreign trade partner in 2001 with a trade volume of $127 million. Tatarstan's exports exceeded imports from Slovakia by 120 times, while the bulk of goods sold by Tatarstan consisted of oil, synthetic rubber, and other chemical products.

Tetesh Muslim Community Asks For Permission To Let Muslim Teachers In Schools
The Muslim community in the Tetesh region in Tatarstan made a public appeal to the republic's Muslim Religious Board, the Education Ministry, and the "Watanim Tatarstan" newspaper on 8 July for young Muslim religious school graduates to be able to teach in the region's schools in order to promote moral values, reported the same day.

Currently, local school officials demand that young Muslim tutors present their diplomas and refuse to discuss the possibility of hiring Muslim teachers.

Tatarstan's Major Exporters Named
Tatarstan's Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation summed up the results of its contest for the best exporting enterprise in 2001, Tatar-inform reported on 11 July. Kazan's Elektropribor electric equipment plant, which specializes in the production of military aircraft navigation systems, was awarded first place for the most dynamic development among exporters, while the Kazan helicopter plant was awarded for selling the most products abroad.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Constitutional Commission To Use U.S. Constitution As Example
The Bashkir Constitutional Commission, established by President Murtaza Rakhimov to develop a new version of the republic's fundamental law, has chosen to use the U.S. Constitution as a model, "Expert. Ural" weekly reported on 8 July. Bashkir authorities have been forced to make amendments to the constitution for the second time in the last 18 months as a result of rulings by federal courts that have annulled a number of the document's articles.

Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev has held negotiations over the past several weeks with federal officials, including Dmitrii Kozak, deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, and Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, among others.

The weekly said that Bashkir authorities will try to develop a new constitution that will meet the requirements of federal authorities and that will also maintain the key provisions of the republic's previous constitution. The principle about the superiority of Bashkir legislation is to be removed, while the provision stating that the republic is a sovereign state within the Russian Federation will be maintained, the publication wrote.

"Expert" quoted Tolkachev as saying that reaching an understanding with Moscow will depend on resolving the issue of sharing power between the federal and republican governments.

Under an agreement reached recently between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Rakhimov, the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan will remain in force but will be amended in the same manner as the republican constitution.

Work on amending both the constitution and the treaty will be carried out at the same time, the weekly said.

Ufa To Hold Memorial Ceremony For Crash Victims
A memorial ceremony for 22 victims of the 1 July midair crash involving a Bashkir Airlines Tupolev 154 in Germany will be held in Ufa on 13 July, reported on 10 July, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. The remains of victims who have already been identified are to be flown from Germany to Ufa for the ceremony, which will take place on Ufa's Sovetskaya Square. Thirty-two victims were already buried in Ufa on 8 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 July 2002).

Relatives Of Victims Begin Receiving Insurance Money
The Sotsinvest and Tsyurikh-Rus insurance companies began paying out 100,000 rubles ($3,165) and 20,000 rubles, respectively, to each family of the victims of the 1 July place crash, Bashinform reported on 10 July. The Bashkir government has also allocated 30,000 rubles for each family. The families of the victims of the collision are to be paid in total about $20,000 each, RIA-Novosti reported on 5 July, citing the Bashkir presidential press service.

Moscow Firm Takes Responsibility For Missed Flight
Sergei Kolesnikov, general director of the Ufa Kreks tourist company that arranged the trip to Spain for the Bashkir children and chaperones who were killed in the 1 July crash in Germany, cited a document at a press conference in Ufa on 9 July in which the Moscow Soglasie tourist company admitted its fault for the group's missing its scheduled 29 June flight to Barcelona. The group was due to fly from Sheremetevo-1 airport on 29 June but was taken by its guide, a Soglasie employee, to Domodedovo airport instead. As a result, the group missed its flight and ended up taking the chartered Bashkir Airlines flight that crashed on 1 July.

Rakhimov Dismisses First Deputy Prime Minister
President Rakhimov dismissed Nikolai Sigakov on 11 July from the post of first deputy prime minister of the republic, Bashinform reported the same day. Rakhimov said that Sigakov moved to another job.

Tatar Congress Postponed
Bashkir authorities are countering plans to hold a congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan to elect delegates to the third World Tatar Congress in Kazan on 28-29 August, "Zvezda povolzhya" reported on 11 July. Bashkir leaders previously suggested that delegates be elected at district conferences, while the congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars be held after the October national census, the weekly said. Tatar leaders have argued, however, that Tatarstan hosted a congress of Tatarstan's Bashkirs in order to allow them to elect delegates to the second World Bashkir Congress that was held in June.

The paper reported that President Rakhimov recently told Kazan that Bashkortostan will not be able to host the Tatar congress within 40 days after the 1 July plane crash that claimed the lives of 61 of the republic's citizens, including 45 children. The planned date of the congress has not yet been made public, while Bashkortostan's Tatars demand it be held no later than 15 August, the paper said.

Salavatnefteorgsintez Board Nominates New General Director
The board of directors of Salavatnefteorgsintez appointed Marat Ishmiyarov as general director of the company, Bashinform reported on 10 July. Ishmiyarov, 54, who previously served as first deputy general director in charge of economy and finances, replaced Nail Kutlugildin, who resigned.

Bashneft Increases Oil Production
Bashneft produced 5.9 million tons of oil in the first six months of 2002, 2.6 percent more than during the same period the previous year, Bashinform reported on 10 July. Production increased both within the republic and at the company's West Siberia deposits. At the same time, gas production decreased to 91 percent of the previous year's production, while the creation of new oil wells decreased to 86 percent of last year's rate.

Bashkir Language Center Opens
The Oktyabrskii administration has opened an office of the Bashkir Language Center, Bashinform reported on 9 July. The center will be engaged in the translation of texts from Bashkir into Russian and vice versa, as well as the production of stamps, signs, and advertisements with texts in Bashkir and Russian.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chelyabinsk Authorities Rename Putin Bar
Chelyabinsk law enforcement bodies have ordered the closure of the "Putin Bar," "Novyi region" reported on 5 July. The agency said local authorities were reacting to the recent press conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin during which he noted that his popularity in "the far Urals" "reached public catering." Bar owners Yelena Terekh and Yevgenia Borishpolskaya told the agency that during their visit to the raion interior affairs department it was proposed that they rename the establishment, and now it is called "Pepsi." The businesswomen commented that bars and restaurants named "Putin" function normally in Israel, the Czech Republic, and Turkey and it is incomprehensible why their initiative met with resistance from local authorities. The agency cited as well unnamed experts as predicting that the ice cream "President" being sold in Nizhnii Tagil could also soon be abolished.

Regional Leaders Comment On 'Third Term' Issue
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov praised the Russian Constitutional Court's ruling that terms begun before October 1999 do not count against regional leaders' maximum two terms, saying "as long as people trust [them], it is necessary [for governors] to take part in elections," RIA-Novosti reported on 9 July. Ayatskov said it is the people who will decide on how many times a regional head can be re-elected. Ayatskov added that a similar rule should be applied to the Russian president. Ayatskov was elected as oblast governor in March 2000 and has announced his intention to run for another term.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel told "Novyi region" on 9 July that "the issue on the third term should be decided by residents. There are countries where leaders can be elected an endless number of times. They work as long as people trust them," Rossel said.

The Russian Constitutional Court ruling of 9 July permits the majority of regional leaders to run for more than two terms. Under the ruling, the terms of governors or presidents that began before 19 October 1999 -- the date on which the law on general principles for organizing legislative and executive organs of power in the subjects of the federation that limits regional leaders to just two terms in office came into force -- are not counted. As a result, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Chavash President Nikolai Fedorov can run for a fourth term in office. Bashkortostan's Murtaza Rakhimov and Sverdlovsk Oblast's Rossel can be elected for their third and fourth terms. Among those governors who can be re-elected for a third term are Saratov Oblast's Dmitrii Ayatskov, Kurgan Oblast's Oleg Bogomolov, Penza Oblast's Vasilii Bochkarev, Mordovia's Nikolai Merkushkin, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug's Yurii Neelov, Kirov Oblast's Vladimir Sergeenkov, Chelyabinsk Oblast's Petr Sumin, Samara Oblast's Konstantin Titov, and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug's Aleksandr Filipenko.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Parliament Deputies Deprived Of Immunity
Deputy Prosecutor-General in the Ural Federal District Yurii Zolotov challenged the Sverdlovsk Oblast Charter and laws that provide immunity for deputies of the oblast legislature, "Novyi region" reported on 9 July. The prosecutor's protests followed the Russian Constitutional Court ruling that immunity for local parliaments' deputies contradicts the Russian Constitution. In the past year, two Sverdlovsk parliament deputies -- Anton Bakov and Pavel Fedulev -- have come under criminal investigation.

One Resident Injured At Opening Of Russian Expo Arms-2002
Some 200 Russian companies, one Ukrainian, and one Swiss company will exhibit their products at the international Russian Expo Arms-2002 that opened in Nizhnii Tagil on 9 July, "Kommersant" reported the next day. Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov attended the opening ceremony.

An accident took place during the ceremony when shots fired from the "Smerch" (Tornado) facility injured an onlooker, 49-year-old Yevgenii Boyarskii. Boyarskii was hospitalized with a fractured arm and a wound to the abdomen and underwent a surgery. The paper said the accident was caused by a use of untested ammunition.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Rossel told a press conference on 9 July that this exhibition, the third, became profitable this year. He said 50 million rubles ($1.6 million) were spent on preparations for the event that are to be collected back in payment of rent and tickets cost.

Putin Visits Ulyanovsk
President Vladimir Putin, visiting Ulyanovsk on 7 July, said the term of restructuring Ulyanovsk Oblast's debt to Russia's Unified Energy Systems will be extended from 6 to at least 15 years, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Putin stressed that this decision is to be considered "an exclusive one."

Putin said the situation in Ulyanovsk Oblast is one of the most complex in Russia. The governor inherited large debts for municipal services, energy, and heating, while the income per head in the oblast is the lowest in the Volga region, Putin said. The rate of growth of municipal services, energy, and heating prices is from 7 1/2 to 11 times higher than the national average, he said, adding, "That is shock therapy," but no one is guilty, as usual.

Speaking the next day at a meeting with the heads of the Volga Federal District regions in Saransk, Putin called for legislative development of a mechanism of acting in force majeur situations, including the dismissal of those regional heads who bring their regions to a crisis. He noted, however, that "there is nobody to dismiss in Ulyanovsk Oblast."

Ulyanovsk's Aviastar Faces Bankruptcy
The Ulyanovsk Arbitration Court has ruled in favor of a suit by the Federal Service of Financial Improvement (FSFO) and tax bodies initiating bankruptcy procedures at Ulyanovsk's Aviastar air industrial company, reported on 10 July. An external control was introduced at the company that will be performed by FSFO employee Yurii Igin. Aviastar's debt totals 1.4 billion rubles ($44.4 million). A creditors board is to be held at the company within three months either to continue bankruptcy procedures or to come to an agreement.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova