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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 18, 2003

18 March 2003
KamAZ, ZIL Discuss Possible Merger
The management at the Chally-based KamAZ automotive concern and the Moscow-based ZIL automobile manufacturer held merger talks in Moscow on 14 March to discuss the possibility of moving ZIL to Chally, where it can take advantage of some of KamAZ's unused production facilities, "Izvestiya" reported the same day. KamAZ, which has a production capacity of some 200,000 heavy trucks a year, is currently producing only 25,000 trucks annually. The daily also reported that ZIL's major shareholder, the Moscow city government, is in favor of the move, as the manufacturer currently occupies 350 hectares of valuable land in the city.

Muslim Leader Calls For Increased Interaction With State
The head of the Tatar Muslim Religious Board, Gosman Iskhaqov, told the Intertat news agency on 17 March that, "although the church and religious organizations are separated from the state, religious leaders are not. Muslims live by the laws of this state and pay taxes to it. Therefore, it is vital to expand interaction between figures representing the interests of millions of Muslims with state bodies." The same day, Iskhaqov left for Moscow to take part in an advanced training course for the heads of Muslim religious boards.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Unified Russia Dominates New Parliament
Ninety-one of the 120 deputies elected to the Bashkir State Assembly on 16 March are representatives of Unified Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 March, citing the Bashkir Central Electoral Commission. Three candidates were re-elected to the parliament, including State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev. Among the Unified Russia representatives elected to the assembly are President Murtaza Rakhimov's son Ural, who is also the chairman of Bashkirenergo, Bashneftekhim, and Bashneft, and UralSib bank President Azat Qormanaev. The Communist Party, which had 37 candidates, will be represented by three deputies, RosBalt reported on 17 March, citing representatives of the opposition bloc made up of the Communists, Yabloko, and local Russian and Tatar national organizations. Two of the six candidates from Yabloko and leader of the Rus movement Anatolii Dubovskii also won seats. At the same time, not a single candidate from a Tatar organization was elected, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

Federal TsIK Member: Bashkortostan Took Step Toward Democratic Elections
Russian Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) representative Yevgenii Kolyushin told reporters on 17 March that he does not know what to think about the fact that final official results of the voting in the 16 March Bashkir parliamentary elections still were not available at 11.00 a.m. that day. Kolyushin said the state automatic vote-counting system allows final results to be obtained "in two or three hours after a vote ends, while we only have data reported at 9.00 p.m.," and no results had been still reported on 10 electoral districts. He added that this could be "a mistake of organization or a deliberate delay."

Kolyushin reported some electoral violations, among them the fact that district electoral commissions were not set up in the republic while their powers were transferred to territorial commissions. As a result, electoral rights were not properly defended as residents were deprived by this measure of the right to appeal on electoral issues to the Russian Supreme Court. At the same time, Kolyushin said, "a definite step toward free democratic elections" was taken in Bashkortostan on 16 March. He said the campaign was held under federal electoral legislation and observers had free access to electoral districts.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova