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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 20, 2000

20 April 2000
Tatarstan Officials Skeptical of Russian Constitutional Court Decision To Amend Local Legislation
Tatarstan officials cmmented on a recent Russian Constitutional Court decision allowing local courts of the under common jurisdiction to hold up local laws if they contradict federal legislation.

Gennady Baranov, chairman of Tatarstan's Supreme Court, said in an interview with the independent daily, "Vechernyaya Kazan," that this Russian Constitutional Court decision will have a limited effect in Tatarstan. He said Tatarstan has its own treaty arrangements with Russia -- some issues are regulated by federal legislation, others by its own laws. Baranov maintained that if a Tatarstan law contradicts a federal one under Russian federal jurisdiction, then the court will have an obvrious right to bring its provisions into line, but as of now the necessary procedure does not exist.

On the same day, Midkhat Eurmanov, chairman of the State Council committee on legislation and legality, told the daily, "our position is the following: legislation should not be reduced to a common denominator in an automatic way, shouldn't be equaled blindly. Sometimes laws of territorial entities give people more rights than federal laws. Our laws, for example, improve conditions for Tatarstan's residents ­ a fact also recognized by the federal authorities. When he was a candidate, Putin promised that laws to regularize this legislation would not be automatically adopted."

The laws of Tatarstan and the Russian Federation diverge in regard to electoral legislation, deputy immunity from criminal prosecution, licensing, ownership of natural resources, and others. Tatarstan laws extent immunity to officials of elected bodies at all levels, including district councils, while in Russia only to duma deputies are eligible. More activities are to be licensed in Tatarstan rather than in Russia. Natural resources, according to the Russian Constitution, are under the joint authority of the Russian Federation and its territorial entities, while Tatarstan's legislation considers them republic property.

Tatarstan Look For Ways To Overcome Energy Crisis
Ilshat Fardiev, director of Tatenergo, Tatarstan's electricity monopoly, informed the official daily, "Respublica Tatarstan," that the republic government will lobby Moscow for a project to increase the water level at the Nizhnekamsk reservoir. The goal of this project is to avoid a republic energy crisis caused by recent controversies between the Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, and the Russian Federation electricity grid, the United Energy Systems. Fardiev said the project would increase the water level from 6 meters up to 68 meters, and to increase the republic share of Nizhnekamsk hydroelectric power station in Tatarstan's total energy production from 4.5 percent to 12 percent. He said that switching to alternate sources of fuel, such as black oil or coal, is unacceptable for Tatarstan due to the high cost of black oil, and that the republic's most advanced power stations are not equipped for coal. Fardiev noted that modern equipment should be installed to increase the efficiency of gas fuel use from the current level of 45 percent to 95-98 percent,.In addition, Fardiev observed that an energy conservation program should be introduced to overcome the crisis in the long term.

Fardiev asserted that Tatenergo did not need to be restructured as a joint-stock company immediately. He said that the company, with a current debt of 7 billion rubles and a credit of 5 billion rubles, may be formed after restructuring by creditors. The state should maintain control over the energy branch. The total Tatenergo debt to Gazprom is 2 billion rubles. Current gas deliveries are paid on time, with 60 percent paid in cash. According to the Tatenergo agreement with Gazprom, the index should be brought to 100 percent by the end of the year.

A New Tatarstan-India Cooperation Agreement
Narendra Bakhadur Singhk, Military Attach頡t the Indian Embassy in Moscow, met with Tatarstan Deputy Economics and Industry Minister, Sergei Mukhin, to discuss cooperation prospects, the business daily, "Vremya i Dengi," reported.

Tatarstan's synthetic rubber exports to India comprise over 90 percent of its total export, plus trucks, tires, and spare parts for the aerospace industry. India exports to Tatarstan equipment for the food processing industry. Oil, machine building, and pharmaceuticals were named as priority areas for future cooperation.

After a year of negotiations, there was agreement to promote a joint development project between Tatneft and the Indian company, ONGS Videsh Ltd to develop oil deposits and divide future production in Tatarstan. Tatarstan's Pozis company has developed a project with MSM Associates to assemble refrigerators in India. Prospects for joint production of medicines also topped the agenda.

According to Singhk, future cooperation with Tatarstan in military technologies would need lengthy and detailed examination. Mukhin said that Tatarstan can propose sale of warships and cargo-vessels in addition to helicopters and is interested in sales of TU-214 aircrafts, KamAZ trucks, medical devices.

The trade turnover between India and Tatarstan increased by almost half over last two years to over $16 million.

Tatar-German Joint Venture To Produce Polyurethane
Heads of Tatarstan's petrochemical giant Nizhnekamskneftekhim and German BASF branch Elastogran Gmbh signed an agreement to open a joint polyurethane producing venture in Tuben Kama, Tatarstan. The companies, equal partners in the venture, will each allocate 28 million rubles to form initiatial capital. During the year after the approval of the agreement, an additional 12 million marks will be invested.

The director of Elastogran, Reinhard Leppkes, told a news conference after the signing ceremony that the German side selected Nizhnekamskneftekhim to be a partner because it is situated close to the leading automobile manufacturers, AvtoVAZ and KamAZ.

Vladimir Busygin, General Manager of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, said the joint company was opened within the framework of a 1999 cooperation agreement between the BASF group and Tatarstan's petrochemical company. He said that joint projects on production of polystirol, cooling liquids, herbicides, and pesticides are also being developed.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova.