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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 30, 2002

30 August 2002
Worldwide Congress Decries Centralization Of Power
The World Tatar Congress (BTK) adopted an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which it endorsed the "liberalization and revival of Russia's economy, the strengthening of government, [and] society's further progress on the path of democratic reform of the last five years," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 30 August. The congress acknowledged Putin's "active work as chairman of state commission preparing Kazan's millennium celebrations...which is a recognition of multiethnic Tatarstan's contribution to the creation of new Russian Federation."

World Tatar Congress delegates also expressed their concern over the "fate of democracy and federalism in Russia," which the group says is being undermined by Moscow's "aspiration to concentrate powers in the [hands of] federal structures." The appeal characterized the current centralization of power as a recipe for "irresponsibility and an absence of initiative" among local governments. The group also expressed concern over the division of Tatars into different ethnic subgroups during the upcoming census (also see today's "Tatar-Bashkir Report"). President Putin was also reminded that, despite numerous appeals by Tatar communities outside Tatarstan, federal television and radio broadcasters have not yet introduced any Tatar-language programming.

Russian Scholar Proposes 'Tatar-Bashkir' Classification
The weekly "Zvezda povolzhya" on 29 August cited Valerii Tishkov, head of the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, saying that Tatars and Bashkirs should refer to themselves as "Tatar-Bashkirs" in the October census "in order to prevent the manipulation of the Tatar and Bashkir peoples." He said such a move would stabilize relations between the groups, adding that the idea was rejected by his Scientific Council, which prepared the nationalities list for the census. The joint "Tatar-Bashkir" classification was attempted in the 1926 census but later rejected by Soviet authorities.

Two Major Tatar NGOs Get New Leaders
RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 29 August that 51-year-old Rinat Zakirov was elected chairman of the World Tatar Congress' Executive Committee the same day. Zakirov will reportedly retain his job as director of Kazan's National Cultural Center and leader of the Tatarstan-New Century centrist movement. Meanwhile, on 27 August, the federation-wide Tatar National Cultural Autonomy also elected a new leader: prominent Tatar journalist Rimzil Veliev. Before these two appointments, Indus Tahirov served as chief executive of the World Tatar Congress and as National Cultural Autonomy chairman.

Antimonopoly Authorities Fine Influential TAIF Group's Telecom
The Tatarstan branch of the federal Antimonopoly Ministry upheld a claim by Tatarstan's Union of Internet Users and Operators against fixed-line operator and Internet service provider (ISP) Intelset, which is a subsidiary of the influential Tatar-American Investments and Finance Group on 28 August, Tatnews reported the same day. The ministry fined Intelset 200,000 rubles ($6,329) for blocking subscribers' access to other ISPs. Both the union and Intelset are preparing for trial. Intelset lawyers insist their client has a right to limit Internet access as it pleases because it is the sole proprietor of the network, which now boasts 30,000 subscribers in Kazan.

Tatneft Begins Exploration Of Iraqi Oil Deposits
The first group of Tatneft drilling experts left Elmet, Tatarstan, for Iraq on 28 August, the daily "Izvestiya" reported in its republican edition on 30 August. The brigade is to work on the Kerkut oil deposit, owned by Iraq's Northern Oil Company and construct 45 wells, authorized under the UN's oil-for-food program. The daily also cited Tatneft General Director Shafagat Takhautdinov as saying his company aims to strengthen its standing in Iraq to include wider oil-development contracts in the future.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tatar Ministers Stress Importance Of Trade With Bashkortostan
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told the roundtable discussion on Tatarstan's Business Partners at the World Tatar Congress on 28 August that Bashkortostan was his republic's main trading partner out of 63 Russian regions that have trade and economic-cooperation treaties with Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The Tatar prime minister said that economic ties between the republics are still developing.

Before signing an economic-cooperation treaty on 25 July, trade relations between the two republics were governed by a 1997 friendship and cooperation treaty.

Tatar Minister of Economy and Industry Aleksei Pakhomov and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Khafiz Salikhov stressed to the congress the importance of forming closer ties between the two neighboring republics.

Court Rejects Prosecutor's Claim In Bashkirenergo Privatization Case
The Bashkir Arbitrage Court has rejected a claim filed by the Bashkir Prosecutor's Office demanding that the results of the privatization of Bashkirenergo, the republic's heat and energy producer, be revised, "Kommersant" daily reported on 27 August. The Bashkir prosecutor claimed that the privatization should have been carried out in accordance with the 15 August 1992 Russian presidential decree in accordance with which 49 percent of the shares in privatized companies in the energy industry have to be handed over to the federal government.

According to the Bashkirenergo privatization plan, however, only 15 percent of the shares in the company were given to Moscow, while the Bashkir government retained a 34 percent stake.

Deputy Chairman of the Bashkir Arbitrage Court Igor Danilov told the daily that the court rejected the prosecutor's claim because an investigation revealed that the federal government had in fact already approved the Ufa-proposed privatization plan.

President Marks Industry Holiday, Meets With Workers
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with workers in the oil-and-gas industry on 30 August, an official industry holiday in the republic marking the 70th anniversary of the first oil extraction in Bashkortostan, the presidential press service reported the same day. Rakhimov told the workers that the discovery of oil in Bashkortostan turned an "agrarian republic into one of the most developed industrial regions in Russia."

Bashkir, Belarusian Companies Ready To Sign Agreements
As a result of the 12-16 August visit of a Bashkir delegation to Belarus, some 150 companies are ready to sign cooperation agreements, RosBalt reported on 30 August, citing the Bashkir Chamber of Trade and Industry. The report added that several Bashkir companies in the fields of aviation, oil, and machinery have already signed such agreements with Belarusian companies.

The Netherlands Becomes Largest Importer Of Bashkir Goods
The Bashkir State Statistics Committee announced on 29 August that the Netherlands was the largest importer of Bashkortostan-produced goods in the first half of 2002, purchasing $220 million worth of products, while China, importing $130 million worth of goods, and Germany, with $83.8 million in imports, were the second-largest and third-largest importers, respectively. The majority of goods exported to these countries were comprised of petrochemical products. Bashkortostan's entire foreign-trade turnover in the first half of this year was more than $1 billion.

UralSib Gets Loan From European Bank
Bashkortostan's UralSib bank announced on 27 August that it has received a one-year syndicated loan of $33 million from Austria's Raiffeisen Zentralbank and its Moscow subsidiary, Bashinform reported the same day. The terms of the loan may be extended upon the agreement of all the contracting parties.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Prosecutor Says Murder Of Duma Deputy Contracted
Chelyabinsk Oblast Prosecutor Anatolii Bragin said at a press conference on 26 August that he has no doubt that the murder of State Duma Deputy Vladimir Golovlev was a contract murder, Ural-Press-Inform reported the same day. Bragin also said that a significant part of the money embezzled in Chelyabinsk Oblast during privatization is being laundered abroad. He said his office has documents proving that this money was put in several European and U.S. banks. Prosecutors have also found 11 Russian and foreign companies that it says were involved in money laundering in Cyprus, the Virgin Islands, Germany, the U.S., and Great Britain. Bragin said documents discovered during investigations prove that Golovlev was worth more than $100 million.

Kirov Oblast Press Committee Head Violates Federal Law On Media
The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has agreed to an appeal by the Russian Press Ministry against the activity of Kirov Oblast Press and Information Committee head Yelena Shutyleva, NTA Privolzhye reported on 28 August. Shutyleva came under fire for sending a letter to media outlets in Kirov Oblast in which she urged chief editors to be selective and to regulate the amount of appeals sent to State Duma deputies. The Russian Press Ministry called this a violation of the law on the media and made the appeal to the Prosecutor-General's Office. Kirov Oblast prosecutors warned Shutyleva about this federal violation and appealed to the Kirov Oblast governor to hold Shutyleva responsible for her behavior.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles Destroyed In Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast
U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana) visited a ballistic missile destruction facility in the Surovatikha village of the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast on 27 August, the Nizhnii Novgorod Telegraph Agency reported the same day. The visit was part of a Russian-American intergovernmental agreement on the mutual destruction of strategic offensive armament, SNV-2. Thirty-six rockets were destroyed during Lugar's visit, 17 of them SS-18s, and the rest SS-13s. Two more SS-18s and 14 SS-13s are still to be dismantled. Current financing for the program and the capacity of the facility will allow the work to be completed by the end of the year. Lugar expressed his satisfaction during the visit and said a report he will write for the U.S. Congress will be positive. He said U.S. experts are interested in continuing cooperation with Russia, and that he will promote the program. Under the Russian-American program of Nunn-Lugar, the former rocket storage site in Surovatikha was reconstructed in 2000 and the first rockets were destroyed in December 2001. The U.S. has invested $15 million into the project.

Nizhnii Novgorod TV Company Warned For Inciting Dissension
The Volga District Board of the Russian Press, Television, and Mass Communications Affairs Ministry officially warned the Nizhnii Novgorod TV company Volga that information about the migration of Chechen refugees to the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast and the tone of its reporting in the 18 August program "Posleslovie" can be described as arousing "national intolerance and dissension," the Nizhnii Novgorod Telegraph Agency reported on 27 August. The board said the TV channel violated the federal law on counteracting extremist activity, specifically, the part devoted to media actions that stir up racial, national, or religious dissension, or promoting violence, humiliating ethnic dignity, disseminating propaganda that suggests the exclusiveness, superiority or inferiority of citizens with regard to their attitude toward religion, as well as social, racial, national, religious, or language grouping.

FSB Says Nizhnii's Volga TV Showed Fake Reports
Experts from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) board in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast concluded that secretly recorded video of State Duma deputy Vadim Bulavinov shown by the local Volga and Set NN television companies were staged, while a story broadcast by the Volga TV company contains false elements, the Nizhnii Novgorod Telegraph Agency reported on 27 August citing the FSB board. The preliminary analysis of the video materials was conducted at Bulavinov's request, and an official resolution will be issued in the event that a criminal case is filed, FSB board officials said. On 25 August, Volga television showed a tape paid for by a candidate for the Nizhnii Novgorod mayorship and former editor in chief of "Leninskaya Smena plyus," Viktor Barinov, which told of a meeting Bulavinov had with representatives of criminal groups. On 26 August, the Set NN television showed a document purporting to show Bulavinov had had another meeting with someone described as a criminal.

Nizhnii Court OKs Registration Of 'Doubles'
In a closed session on 27 August, a municipal court in Nizhnii Novgorod upheld a decision by the local Election Commission to register candidates for mayor who have the same names as other candidates, RTR reported. The use of so-called doubles is a widespread dirty trick in Russian regional elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). "This is a blow to elections as such," said Vita Vladimirova, lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, State Duma Deputy Vadim Bulavinov. Bulavinov is a leading candidate in the 15 September poll, and he filed the complaint after another candidate -- an unemployed local man who legally changed his name to Vadim Bulavinov in July -- was registered. The second Bulavinov has not been seen in public since he submitted his papers to the Election Commission and police have declared him missing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 2002) and launched a search.

Village In Sverdlovsk Oblast Disconnected From Energy For Two Years
The Otradnovo village in Sverdlovsk Oblast, in which 15 people live, has been cut off from energy for two years -- since fall of 2000 when a power line was stolen, "Novyi region" reported on 26 August. The nearest village is 12 kilometers from Otradnovo. Local people do not have TV, radio, or telephones, and also lack stores and a medical facility. The villagers only connection to the outside world is a mail truck that comes once a month to bring foodstuffs. Aleksandr Chelpanov, the acting head of Verkhoturskii Uyezd, in which Otradnovo is located, said power will not be restored to Otradnovo until the end of the year.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova