22 June 2000
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTANMass Media Forum In Kazan
Russian national forum of mass media "All Russia 2000" began in Kazan on 21 June. The forum involved over 700 chiefs, reporters of Russian mass media and publishing companies representatives. Well-known journalists from Russian newspapers such as "Izvestia," "Komsomolskaya Pravda," "Kommersant" and Radio Russia, Radio Echo of Moscow held seminars for representatives of regional mass media. In his address to the forum, Tatarstan's president Mintimer Shaimiev said that freedom of speech was "a common human value, not just a special right for journalists. There is no apparent dictatorship or censorship under current conditions...this is an advance for journalists and a great achievement for all of society." In Shaimiev's words journalists play a significant role in consolidating the positive social forces of Russia. Tatarstan's president said he was grateful "to the majority of Russian journalists for constructive and sometimes critical attitude to the initiatives, problems and successes of our republic."
Also on 21 June, the World Congress of Tatars hosted a meeting of Tatar media representatives from the Russian republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Udmurtia and the Tumen, Samara, Orenburg, Kurgan, and Sverdlovsk oblasts. Meeting participants agreed to maintain close cooperation�in promoting Tatar culture in regions populated by ethnic Tatars. The world famous writer and Kyrgyz ambassador to the Benelux countries, Chingiz Aytmatov, said at the forum that "without hindering other languages and assisting in their development, the Russian language serves as a bridge connecting our cultures with the the world culture. It's important not to oppose the ethnic languages to Russian. Your native language has its own sphere, serving your interests, but Russian unites us. This can be a measure for going beyond the limits of CIS� Without the Russian language it is impossible to develop a real and intact culture." The Kazakhstan ambassador to Italy, poet Olzhas Suleymenov, shared Aytmatov's views about the Russian language as a measure for uniting the peoples of former USSR.
The former Tatarstan State Council chairman and permanent Russian representative in the European Union, Vasily Likhachev, also participated in the forum. Commenting on the arrest of Media-Most chief Vladimir Gusinsky, Likhachev said that "in accordance with the principles of civil society, we all ought to have been told about the prosecutors' actual claims on the behalf of government against Gusinsky." Likhachev said he had refused Russian president Putin's recent proposal to become a presidential representative in Siberia because he "would represent more use for Russia with his diplomatic experience" in Strasbourg than in Siberia.
Hard Currency Loans Repayment Impossible
On 21 June, the parliamentary control committee informed Tatarstan's State Council deputies on the situation on the reimbursement of hard currency loans allotted to 19 state organizations and enterprises in 1991-1994. According to the Committee, the republican government did not stipulate any procedure for the return of USD 140 million 500 thousand in loans from organizations and enterprises such as Tatavtotrans, Tatkhleboproduct, Tatsakharprom, Ministry of Communications, Krasniy Vostok. Reportedly the situation is further complicated by the fact that 15 of 19 mentioned companies have been privatized and now reject responsibility because there were no official documents relating to their loans.
Tatneft Obtains Profits From Its "Act of Charity"
Tatarstan's major oil extraction company Tatneft began monthly oil deliveries to Norsi-oil refinery in Nizhny Novgorod, the republican press reported on 17 June. 100 thousand tons of oil delivered monthly to Norsi will reportedly save the refinery from a total lack of orders and possible bankruptcy. The "Vremya I Dengi" daily newspaper stated on 21 June that this "charity action" could be aimed at winning the sympathy of Sergei Kiriyenko, the Russian presidential representative in the new Volga administrative district, who is a former chief of Norsi-oil. According to official sources, the Tatarstan Republic managed to stabilize its oil output in the last decade and maintain its annual volume of 23-26 million tons. Lacking sufficient petroleum production facilities, republican government decided to purchase a petroleum plant in mid 90ies.� The first stage of this project was the investment of USD 115 million towards the construction of an oil refinery in Tuben Kama, close to Nizhnekamskneftekhim chemical pants. At the same time, the Republic Cabinet of Ministers negotiated with Nizhny Novgorod and Bashkortostan's petroleum producers to obtain control over a refinery outside Tatarstan's territorial limits. In 1997, Bashkortostan's government agreed to sell the controlling parcel of shares in the Ufa oil refinery to Tatarstan. In early 1999, the Nizhny Novgorod administration also agreed to trust 51% of shares in its oil refinery to the Tatarstan Republic. In September 1999, the Tatarstan government finally decided to give top priority to the deal with Bashkortostan, but Ufa backed out of taking part in the "oil for property program". As a result, Tatneft boosted oil deliveries to foreign markets and more intensively proceeded with constructing a petroleum factory in Tuben Kama. This resulted in drastic cuts of raw oil deliveries from Tatarstan to the Norsi oil refinery in Nizhny, which had already started loosing suppliers. According to the Tatarstan press, the "rescue operation" of Tatneft is mutually profitable, because Norsi oil refinery would be saved from absolute bankruptcy and Tatneft will obtain free petroleum from Norsi. The agreement between Tatneft and Norsi-oil will be in effect until September 2001, when Tatarstan expects to finish the construction of its own petroleum plant in Tuben Kama.
Republican Security Council On Session
Tatarstan's Security Council went into session on 21 June to discuss the aftermath of recent massive rain storms and improvement of the management system of the KamAZ automotive works. According to Tatarstan's officials, rain storms on 19 and 20 June resulted in over 150 million rubles in damages, injuring dozens of citizens across the republic. Nevertheless Tatarstan's president Mintimer Shaimiev noted that stormy weather was "useful in a way," because the soil received about 90% of the water it needed. The Security Council agreed to intensify the reform process in the KamAZ automotive works management because the plant finished the restructuring of its debt to European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and gained 47% of heavy trucks market in Russia.
Comiled by Iskender Nurmi