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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 4, 2003

4 September 2003
Legislature Passes Electoral Law On Second Reading...
On 3 September, the Tatar State Council passed on its second reading a draft law on the election of State Council deputies, reported the same day. The makeup of the proposed parliament has been radically changed since the draft was adopted on the first reading last fall. According to the draft, to which 361 amendments were passed on the second reading, the Tatar parliament will be unicameral and comprise 100 deputies. Half of the deputies will be elected on party lists and, in order to be represented in parliament, parties must garner more than 7 percent of the electorate's support. A fixed number of deputies will work at the parliament full-time. Parliament speaker Farid Mukhametshin told the session that amendments to the law on elections reflect the process of democratization in Tatarstan. The session will continue on 11 September.

...Plans To Hold Parliamentary Campaign Parallel With Russian Presidential Elections
Elections for the Tatar State Council will be held in March 2004, parallel with the Russian presidential elections, Tatar-inform reported on 3 September. The current legislature was elected on 19 December 1999 for a five-year term.

Kazan Mayor Elected Vice President Of European Association Of Historical Cities
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov was elected vice president of the European Association of Historical Cities, Tatar agencies reported on 3 September. The decision was passed at a general assembly of the association in Verona, Italy in late August. Participants spoke of boosting cooperation with Kazan, which is preparing to mark its millennium in 2005.

TNK-BP Seeks To Purchase Stake In Ukrtatnafta
German Khan, executive director of the TNK-BP oil concern, said that his company is interested in buying a stake in the Kremenchug-based oil refinery Ukrtatnafta if Ukraine decides to sell its 43 percent stake in the plant, "Kommersant" reported on 4 September. Tatneft, which together with the Tatar government has a controlling interest in Urktatnafta, has also expressed interest in the stake.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Possible Presidential Candidate Addresses Open Letter To Rakhimov...
Russian State Duma Deputy (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, LDPR) Aleksei Mitrofanov held a press conference at RIA-Novosti's press club in Moscow on 3 September to deliver an open letter to his possible rival in the race for president of Bashkortostan, incumbent Murtaza Rakhimov, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Mitrofanov, who is still uncertain if he will run for the post, visited the republic on 27-28 August but was denied the chance to meet with Rakhimov (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 28 August 2003).

Mitrofanov's letter said that after the retirement of Bashkir Deputy Interior Minister Nikolai Patrikeev, Minister Rafael Divaev should step down, "which would be a logical step by [federal Interior Minister] Boris Gryzlov in cleaning up the Bashkir police" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 14 July, 11 August 2003). Mitrofanov's second query in his letter was to ask Rakhimov, "in whose interests the state property was privatized in Bashkortostan" and whether the president's son, Ural Rakhimov, had any connection to it. Mitrofanov asked whether Rakhimov was prepared to follow the example of Russian President Boris Yeltsin "and retire with dignity."

Meanwhile, the ultranationalist LDPR leader refused to confirm if he will be a candidate for the presidency. Mitrofanov noted that regardless of whether he runs or not his party will offer a candidate and he would personally oversee the "Bashkortostan issue."

...As Another Candidate Plans Major Promotional Event In Bashkortostan
The Russian Federation Council member representing Altai Republic, former LUKOil Vice President Relif Safin, is due to join the oil industry's workers' day celebrations on 7 September in the city of Oktyabrskii, Bashkortostan, which is near the republic's border with Tatarstan, Rosbalt reported yesterday.

According to the agency, during the visit Safin will exhibit the Davis Cup trophy, given to the winner of the world-famous tennis competition, which was most recently won by Russia. The winning team consisted of ethnic Tatar Marat Safin (no relation to Relif Safin) as well as Yevgenii Kafelnikov and Mikhail Yuzhnii. The Bashkir capital is reported to be heavily decorated with posters promoting the event, which will also feature performances by Relif Safin's daughter -- the well-known pop star Alsou, the famous Tatar singers Salavat Fetkhetdinov and Idris Gaziev, and Russian pop star Andei Gubin. Safin also plans to bring along the chairman of the Russian State Sports Committee, famous hockey player Vyacheslav Fetisov, the president of Russia's tennis federation, Shamil Tarpischev, and legendary soccer player Rinat Dasaev.

Bashkortostan's tennis federation commented on the event by saying that it has no relationship to the republican Ministry of Physical Culture, Sport, and Tourism. It said the event is being held on Safin's "private initiative." The federation's representative also told Rosbalt that the Davis Cup trophy could be related to Relif Safin's election campaign for the Bashkir presidency. The presidential elections in the republic are slated for December.

Duma Deputy From Bashkortostan Wants More Bashkir Reps At Okhotnii Ryad Street
Rim Bakyev (Unified Russia), a Russian State Duma deputy representing Bashkortostan, told Bashinform on 3 September that he thinks the republic should increase its representation in the Duma from the current 10 to 13 or 14 deputies. Six of the deputies from Bashkortostan reportedly represent single-mandate districts in the republic, while four were elected on party lists. Bakyev explained that since Bashkortostan's population constitutes 3 percent of Russia's voters, the republic should get 3 percent of the 450 Russian Duma seats. He also added that Unified Russia should win the most seats in the lower chamber of Federal Assembly in the next election "because the centrists have their own vision of the situation in the country and concrete offers for improving it."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi