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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 11, 2002

11 October 2002
Prime Minister Clarifies Tatarstan's Position At MNPZ...
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told on 4 October that, "Only Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov can end the dispute around the Moscow oil refinery [MNPZ]" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 1 October 2002). Minnikhanov said Tatneft owns 17 percent of the plant's shares (together with extraordinary shares) but that the current MNPZ leadership ignores the wishes of other shareholders, including Tatarstan. He stressed that Tatarstan, together with Sibneft, is going to defend its interests. He said Luzhkov is being misled with the false claim that Tatneft is seeking to gain power at MNPZ. "Tatneft does not encroach on anybody's interests," Minnikhanov said. "Most important is to have the right, as a shareholder, to process oil at the plant without mediators." He said fair conditions should be provided to all shareholders, according to their stakes.

...As Paper Says Tatneft To Deliver 250,000 Tons Of Oil
Tatneft will deliver more than 250,000 tons of oil per month to MNPZ, "Vedomosti" daily reported on 7 October. MNPZ General Director Sergei Ilyin, who was appointed at a recent shareholders meeting, agreed with Tatneft, Slavneft, and the Tyumen Oil Company on delivery of at least 388,000 tons a month to MNPZ. Sibneft plans to deliver an additional 363,000 tons.

Meanwhile, an Orenburg arbitration court issued a ruling prohibiting the Moscow Oil Company (MNK) from delivering its oil to MNPZ because both companies are headed by the same person -- Shalva Chigirinskii, who is MNK president and MNPZ board chairman -- "Kommersant" reported on 10 October.

Tatneft Says Its Employees Safe In Iraq
Tatneft officials said company employees working in Iraq would not be likely to get caught in crossfire in the event of U.S. military action targeting that country, RIA-Novosti reported on 7 October. Oil company representatives said Tatneft's projects in Iraq are located primarily in the north of the country, on territory populated by Kurds that would be unlikely to come under attack. They added that if any danger arises, "We won't leave anybody there." Tatneft takes part in the UN oil-for-food program, under which it is developing 45 oil wells in Iraq. Under another contract approved by the UN, Tatneft recently sent 20 of its employees to launch plans to begin production at 33 more wells.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Meets Tatar Congress Delegates
Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel on 10 October met with members of the oblast delegation that took part in the third World Tatar Congress in Kazan on 28-29 August, Region-Inform reported on 10 October. Delegates informed Rossel about their work at the forum and its decisions and raised issues on the development of Tatar culture in the oblast that need to be resolved. They emphasized the necessity for establishing a Tatar school. Rossel said all proposals will be thoroughly studied and considered, adding that virtually all of them can be implemented. He expressed particular support for the establishment in the oblast of a fitness school named after the Nazmutdinov Sisters, the agency reported.

Duma Official Promotes Islamic Education In Russia
The chairman of a Duma committee on public associations' and religious groups' affairs, Viktor Zorkaltsev, has proposed the creation of a center for Islamic clerical education in Russia, RIA-Novosti reported on 11 October. Backers believe the step could discourage the training of Russian students at universities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or other states. Speaking at a conference on cooperation between the state and religious organizations in the education sector on 10 October in Moscow, Zorkaltsev said Russian national security includes the defense of its spiritual and moral heritage, historical traditions, and norms of public life. The presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, Sergei Kirienko, said the existence of "main Islamic educational institutions...located outside the Russian Federation" threatens the spiritual security of the state.

Parliamentary Commission Considers Dispute Between Television Companies
Parliament's Commission on Science, Education, Culture, and Nationalities Issues on 10 October discussed the activities of radio and television broadcaster GTRK Tatarstan and Tatarstan Television and Radio Company-Novyi Vek (TNV), reported the same day. The companies are disputing the division of GTRK property, since that branch of the Russian broadcaster is in the process of joining the federal Russian State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK). A majority of GTRK's equipment that was purchased with money from the republican budget was given to republic-owned TNV. But GTRK still does not receive money from the VGTRK budget. GTRK Chairman Irek Mortazin said at the meeting that as a result, GTRK has reduced its broadcasting volume from 5.5 hours in August to its current 4 hours 20 minutes and will have to make further cuts. Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva said part of republican property will be passed to federal bodies and will become federal property by the end of October, while in the future GTRK will be financed by VGTRK. Welieva said the republican budget will include the same amount for television in 2003 as it did this year, and both companies will receive state orders while the money will be divided proportionally between them.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Federal Prosecutor Urges Changes To Law On Bashkir President
Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev appealed to the Russian Supreme Court asking it to verify the provisions of Bashkortostan's law on its president, the weekly "Novaya gazeta" wrote on 3 October. The court reportedly annulled the law's article which said that only the Bashkir parliament could impeach the president; Russian law gives the Russian president the exclusive power to do this. Zvyagintsev's other protest regarding the right of the Bashkir president to have bodyguards reportedly was not upheld by the court. The paper cited Mariy Yamalov, an official with the information center of the Bashkir presidential staff as saying that it was impossible for the president to serve without bodyguards and added that in his opinion not all "of us had a right to discuss this issue."

Organization Puts Bashkortostan Among Least Corrupt Regions Of Russia
According to on 10 October, Indem Foundation and the Russian branch of Transparency International conducted an opinion poll among ordinary citizens and businessmen in 40 regions of Russia, asking them to choose the country's most corruption-rife regions. Krasnodarskii Krai, Saratov Oblast, Udmurtia Republic, Primorskii Krai, and Kareliya Republic are reported to top the corruption list, while Bashkortostan, along with Arkhangelsk, Kemerovo, Tyumen and Yaroslav oblasts were mentioned as the least-corrupted regions.

Ruble Maintains The Role Of Most-Favorable Currency For Bank Deposits
More than 67.8 percent of deposits in Bashkortostan's banks are in rubles, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 9 October, citing the republic's national bank. This percentage exceeds the Russia's average by 7.8 percent, while deposits in foreign currencies represent 32.2 percent of the total, which is less than the nationwide average of 40 percent.

Official Urges Bashkir Communities Outside Republic To Become Financially Self-Sufficient
Tamara Pushkareva, deputy minister of culture and ethnic policies, told a governmental meeting on 9 October that her republic "actively supports Bashkirs living outside Bashkortostan." She added that those communities, which are home to some 40 percent of the total Bashkir population, "sometimes start abusing our good attitude and try to make our republic finance all of their events for ethnic-cultural development; I think this is incorrect. Bashkortostan's representatives should search for nonbudget sources for funding such events."

Bashkir Economy Decision-Makers Choose The Regions Of Major Interest For Bashkortostan
Bashkortostan's Ministry of Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Trade held a poll among local governmental bodies and businessmen to name the Russian regions that represent are most important to the republican economy, Bashkir State Radio reported on 10 October. Perm, Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Orenburg, Nizhnii Novgorod, Kurgan and Saratov oblasts, and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansiiskii autonomous okrugs were included on the list, which will be used to set priorities in economic cooperation and boosting the activities of Bashkir's representation offices in those regions.

Bashkir Companies Rated Among Top 25 Russian Industries
The daily "Vremya novostei" published a rating of the top 100 Russian industries influencing the economic situation in Russia, compiled by the AK&M agency and the Russian Trade-Industrial Chamber on 9 October. Gazprom, Russia's United Energy Systems (RAO EES), and LUKoil topped the list, while the Bashneft oil company and Bashkirenergo power and heat manufacturer occupied the 16th and 23rd places, respectively.

Government Introduces Stricter Environmental Guidelines For Bashneft
Bashkortostan's cabinet issued stricter environmental rules for the oil company Bashneft in the extraction of oil deposits, Bashinform reported on 9 October. The report said that many of the former oil wells are not well-sealed and that this caused serious pollution of underground waters, especially in the western part of the republic.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Chavash President States Support For Businesses
At a meeting with representatives of small businesses on 5 October in Cheboksary, Chavash President Nikolai Fedorov said, "In place of the middle class a broad layer of corrupted bureaucracy, security-services employees that take part in commerce, and tax policemen who swallow the middle class in embryo, has formed in Russia," RIA-Novosti reported. Fedorov said the development and support of businesses is the most important priority of the republic's leadership.

Yabloko Faction Promotes Resettling Residents From Radiation-Polluted Village In Chelyabinsk Oblast
The Yabloko faction in the State Duma will propose during a discussion on the draft Russian 2003 budget in the second reading to allocate money for moving the residents of the village of Tatarskaya Karabolka in Chelyabinsk Oblast from the area polluted by radiation, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 9 October. The faction passed that decision after faction member Sergei Mitrokhin took part in events devoted to the 45th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at the Mayak company in the oblast. Altogether, 200 villages were affected by radiation in the accident. In Tatarskaya Karabolka, 10 percent of residents die every year.

Chelyabinsk Resident Convicted In United States
Chelyabinsk resident Vasilii Gorshkov, who was arrested last year in the United States, was sentenced on 4 October to three years in prison and a fine of $690,000, reported on 5 October citing Reuters. The U.S. Federal Bureau for Investigations (FBI) arrested Gorshkov and Aleksei Ivanov for repeatedly breaking into computer networks of various U.S. companies.

FBI agents established a false company, Invita, which invited the two to Seattle for employment. Gorshkov and Ivanov were detained after arriving in the United States. During the investigation, the Russian Federal Security Service charged that FBI agents illegally accessed Russian Internet servers to gather evidence against the suspects but the action was recognized as adequate since neither Russian nor U.S. legislation prohibits doing so. During Gorshkov's trial, the prosecution demanded a sentence of at least 16 years, but the judge took into account that members of Gorshkov's family face financial and health problems. Ivanov, who was likely the organizer of the crime, is being tried separately.

Gorshkov's lawyer John Landin said there are grounds to appeal against the verdict, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 9 October. Landin said there is a legal problem since the FBI had no warrant for a search of computers in Russia. He said, "Such a warrant was necessary, though the judge ruled that the FBI did not need any warrant." "This is a unique case when evidence was obtained as a result of intrusion into a computer located in another country," he added.

Oil Found In Marii El
Oil reserves were recently found in Marii El, reported on 5 October. Marii El President Leonid Markelov the same day showed a bottle with oil to guests at the celebrations of the republic's 450th anniversary of joining Russia. Markelov said only one of the republic's five or six oil deposits have so far been prospected -- the Iletskoe deposit. The volume of oil stocks is estimated to be between 5 million and 200 million tons.

Lack Of Heating Hinders Census In Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast
Residents of Balakhna in Nizhnii Novgorod said they won't take part in the national census until their apartments are supplied with heating, Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 9 October. Some 65 percent of local residents and the majority of schools, hospitals, and kindergartens still have not been connected to heating.

A representative of the Russian State Statistics Committee in charge of the census in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast, Tatyana Gorbacheva, said residents of Arzamas, Dzerzhinsk, and certain raions of Nizhnii Novgorod also say they won't take part in the census because of the lack of heating in their houses.

Tyumen Resident Spent 28 Years In Chechen Slavery
Russian soldiers in the Chechen village of Arshty freed 70-year-old Tyumen resident Sergei Ponomarev, who spent 28 years in slavery in that village, reported on 5 October citing In the early 1970s, visiting Chechens persuaded Ponomarev, who is a carpenter, to go to the North Caucasus to earn money and his relatives haven't heard from him since. When he was freed, Ponomarev was emaciated, almost could not speak, and was hospitalized. Eight people have been freed from slavery in Chechnya in 2002, the agency said.

Kirienko Promotes Teaching Religious Values In Secular High Schools
Speaking at a conference on the cooperation of state authorities and religious institutions in the educational sector on 10 October in Moscow, presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko called for the establishment of theological faculties and departments in secular higher-educational institutions, Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported. Kirienko said that "values of atheistic ideology are latently present in post-Soviet educational subjects," while values of traditional religions are not taught there. Kirienko added that a secular state should be equally distant from the main religions.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova