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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 16, 2004

16 March 2004
Unified Russia Wins Constitutional Majority In Tatar Parliament
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told a press conference on 15 March that Unified Russia secured a constitutional majority in the Tatar State Council in republican parliamentary elections on 14 March. Shaimiev said that in addition to the 45 or 46 seats the party won through proportional balloting, 35 of its representatives won elections in single-mandate districts. State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, who headed Unified Russia's party list, won in a single-mandate district with 74 percent of votes. Three or four representatives of the Communist Party appear to have been elected in single-mandate districts, while not a single representative from another party was elected through a party list or in a single-mandate district. Meanwhile, six independent candidates earned seats in the State Council. Shaimiev said the republic's ethnic composition and its female population are better represented in the new parliament.

The president opined that right-wing parties lost the elections because neither the Union of Rightist Forces nor the Russian Regions party has an influential branch in the republic. "We would like those parties to gain a further foothold on Tatarstan's political scene," Shaimiev said.

Commenting on administrative reform, Shaimiev said the Russian model cannot be applied to the Republic of Tatarstan without modifications, adding that Tatar reform will have another shape.

Shaimiev said President Vladimir Putin will have to speed up reforms to heighten the public sense of well-being, and added that such progress depends on how freedom of speech and further democratic reforms are secured under Putin's administration.

Former Duma Deputy Arrested
Former State Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin was detained by Tatar Interior Ministry authorities in Moscow on 12 March, reported on 15 March, citing the ministry's press department. Shashurin is suspected of fraud that caused some 3 million rubles ($105,000) in damages. Kazan's Wakhitov Raion court reportedly sanctioned his arrest on 13 March. "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 16 March cited the Tatar Interior Ministry's press service as saying that criminal investigations against Shashurin were opened long ago but were halted because of Shashurin's parliamentary immunity. Some probes are reportedly linked to the KamAZ automotive concern and the Tatkhleboprodukt bakery.

Shashurin has repeatedly accused the leadership of Tatarstan's Interior Ministry of corruption.

Youth Newspaper's Editor Assaulted
The acting editor in chief of "Molodezh Tatarstana," Ramil Qadyrov, was apparently targeted by gunfire after getting into a car near his home on the morning of 11 March, reported on 16 March. Qadyrov reportedly was uninjured in the incident. The Federal Security Service's Tatar directorate is investigating the incident. Qadyrov took over the newspaper's editorial department in December, after former Editor Anbyar Karmeev was elected to the State Duma.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir President Welcomes Putin's Re-Election
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 15 March that the previous day's Russian presidential election was well-organized and proceeded calmly. Voter turnout was high even in the regions, which is not usually the case, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. Rakhimov said that it would be wrong to say that there was nothing intriguing about the election, because first, there were six candidates and it was possible to pick any of them, and second, Putin had practically no election campaign, and his opponents were always on TV. In this case one could assume that they would win a majority of the vote, but the people decided otherwise, Rakhimov claimed.

The Bashkir president also noted that it was also intriguing whether the voters would turn out at all, as many opposition politicians tried to convince people that voting would make no sense, because everything had already been arranged.

Rakhimov claimed that the next four years of Putin's presidency would represent a turning point for Russia, as fighting corruption and speeding up economic growth will be the main challenges for the president-elect.

Election Commission Announces Official Results Of Presidential Vote
Bashkir Central Election Commission Chairman Bariy Kinjegulov told a news conference on 15 March that according to the final count, 89.09 percent of Bashkortostan's 2.5 million voted in the Russian presidential elections the previous day, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. Vladimir Putin received 91.79 percent of the vote.

This is a significant increase compared to the 2000 elections, in which Putin won 60.25 percent of the vote in Bashkortostan. The rural Baltach region of the republic reportedly showed the strongest support for Putin, casting 99.77 percent in his favor, while in the regions of Boray and Buzdyak, Putin's support also exceeded 99 percent.

As for the other presidential candidates, Nikolai Kharitonov finished second with 3.96 percent and Sergei Glazev third with 1.11 percent. Irina Khakamada managed to win only 1.12 percent in Bashkortostan, Oleg Malyshkin 0.49 percent, and Sergei Mironov 0.33 percent. Only 0.71 percent of voters were reported as voting against all candidates.

Rakhimov Sacks Deputy Premier In Charge Of Industry
President Rakhimov on 15 March signed a decree on retiring Mikhail Yefremov, deputy prime minister in charge of industry, who before January 2004 worked as minister of industry, RosBalt reported the same day. The document gave as formal explanation that Yefremov was given a new appointment, while it is said that the recent inspections at the Bashkir-Spanish Bashkelme sportswear factory in Meleuz exposed numerous cases of financial abuse with the consent of Yefremov's ministry.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi