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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 25, 2005

25 March 2005
Parliament To Vote On Shaimiev's Candidacy...
The State Council will discuss on 25 March the appointment as the republic's president Mintimer Shaimiev, whose candidacy was submitted by President Vladimir Putin on 16 March, Tatar and Russian news agencies reported. Shaimiev, whose current term expires on 25 March 2006, signed his preterm resignation on 9 March. Shaimiev's candidacy was backed by all parliament's committees. State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said on 24 March that Shaimiev's inauguration will also be held on 25 March. Shaimiev, 68, was elected Tatarstan's president in June 1991, March 1996, and March 2001.

...Schedules Municipal Elections...
The State Council at its 24 March session also scheduled the republic's municipal elections for 25 September, Interfax-Povolzhe reported. The date was set in the law on the formation of local self-government bodies that was passed in its third and final reading at the session. Heads of municipal entities will be elected by bodies of representatives that are to be formed from heads of villages and deputies of village councils. The deadline for electing heads of municipal entities is 1 November.

...Ignores Prosecutor's Protest...
State Council Chairman Mukhametshin told reporters on 24 March that the parliament is not going to completely annul articles of the Tatar Constitution relating to the election of Tatarstan's president, Tatarinform and reported the same day. The State Council discussed the same day a request by Tatarstan's prosecutor to eliminate violations of the federal law on general principles of the formation of legislative and executive state authority bodies of federation subjects. Prosecutor Kafil Emirov said recent amendments to the republican constitution passed by the legislature do not fully correspond to federal law since constitutional norms linked to elections of the Tatar president were only frozen, not fully annulled.

Mukhametshin said it is more democratic to elect the head of a subject directly but while a current norm adopted by the federal legislature is in force, some articles of the constitution were halted. "I do not exclude that in some time, democratic processes will force federal authorities to return to a procedure of electing heads of the Russian Federation entities by popular vote." Mukhametshin said if the issue goes to court, the parliament will defend its position.

...Expresses Dissatisfaction With Monetization Of Deputy Benefits
Tatarstan's parliament postponed voting on the law on status of a deputy of the State Council in its third reading on 24 March, Tatarinform and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 24 and 25 March, respectively. Controversy arose regarding an amendment that deprives deputies of the right to free use of VIP sections in airports and railway and riverside stations and to receive free transport tickets. The law provides that the State Council will compensate deputies for their expenses. Communist faction representative Aleksandr Salii opposed the amendment, saying deputies will be cornered and will be unable to fulfill their duties.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Blagoveshchensk Authorities Shut Down Independent Weekly
Blagoveshchensk city authorities shut down the local independent weekly "Zerkalo" without giving any formal reason, forcibly evicting Editor in Chief Veronika Shakhova from the office, the Bashkortostan edition of "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 24 March. According to the newspaper, "Zerkalo" was the first to report on the violent December 2004 police raid there. Shakhova denied reports in Bashkortostan's state media saying that she joined the pro-government Blagoveshchensk public council that was organized to oppose the "information war" against local police by the Russian media.

'Oligarch Killer' Prosecutor To Serve In Bashkortostan
Salavat Karimov, a special-assignment investigator of Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office who is also known as the "oligarch killer" by the Russian media for his involvement in the Yukos case, was appointed first deputy prosecutor of the Republic of Bashkortostan, "Vedomosti" reported on 24 March. The daily cited knowledgeable sources as saying the new appointment means the end of the investigations of Yukos and the intention of federal authorities to "fortify the Bashkir prosecutor's office with a well-proven specialist" to investigate the privatization of stakes in Bashneft, Bashkirenergo, and Bashkirnefteprodukt, as well as four oil refineries in the republic.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi