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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 24, 2003

24 October 2003
Tatarstan's President Backs Live TV Debates
President Mintimer Shaimiev, who is also co-chairman of the Unified Russia party and third on that party's list of candidates for December's State Duma elections, told Interfax on 23 October that he thinks national debates among party leaders should be broadcast live rather than on tape delay, as ORT and RTR are planning. Shaimiev also commented on media concerns regarding recently enacted election legislation that strictly regulates media coverage of the campaigns by saying that "mass media and candidates for deputies' seats are encountering the outcome of their actions in the previous electoral campaign." Shaimiev recalled the 1999 Duma campaign, in which former ORT anchorman Sergei Dorenko earned the nickname "TV killer" with controversial programs that many viewed as harsh on the Fatherland-All Russia bloc.

Shaimiev said both media and politicians "should learn political culture with a single purpose of preserving free speech and the citizens' right to information, which by no means may be infringed under current conditions of heightened political activity."

Election Commission Closes Registration Period For Duma Elections
Tatarstan's Central Election Commission announced following the 22 October deadline for candidates to apply for the 7 December Duma elections that only a fraction of the expected candidates have completed the official registration process. The CEC press service reported on 23 October that the current list of registered candidates shows that in the republic's Privolzhskii raion, Tatar State Council deputy and high-profile businessman Aleksandr Sapogovskii will face another parliamentary deputy, the Equality and Legality (RiZ) movement's Aleksandr Shtanin, State Duma Deputy and Development of Entrepreneurship Party leader Ivan Grachev, Communist Duma Deputy Aleksandr Salii, and journalist Irek Murtazin.

In the Tuben Kama raion, Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) candidate Shamil Smirnov will compete against Unified Russia's Shamil Salikhov. The Chally district will witness a race that includes independent Leonid Ivanov; Communist and stock-market expert Khafiz Mirgalimov; the Party of Life's Bulat Yanborisov; Unified Russia's Oleg Morozov; and independent historian Shamil Ibyatov.

Elmet raion voters will reportedly choose from among the People's Party's Salimkhan Akhmetkhanov, Unified Russia's Marat Magdeev, Communist Vladimir Kazakov, and Sergei Brusov from a local WWII veterans' group. The Moskovskii raion of Kazan so far has no officially registered candidates, while the Election Commission has 10 more days to consider the filed applications.

Duma Candidate Vows Revision Of Subsidies Decision
A Russian State Duma Deputy representing Tatarstan and member of Unified Russia's party leadership, Oleg Morozov, met with voters in Alabuga, Tatarstan, on 23 October, Al-Inform reported the same day. Morozov told locals that the republican government is planning to revise a recent decree lifting social subsidies to employees in the budgetary sector, including medical workers and teachers, from 1 October. Morozov quoted Tatarstan State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin as telling him that the republic found 500 million rubles ($17 million) to maintain the subsidies and is looking for 350 million more.

Republican Prosecutor Says Photo Of Subordinate With Reputed Criminal Is Authentic
In an interview with the "Izvestiya" daily published on 23 October, Tatarstan's chief prosecutor, Kafil Amirov, confirmed that a photo of Chally prosecutor Ildus Nafikov together with a reputed crime boss published by the "Chelny LTD" newspaper in September is genuine. Eduard Tagiryanov, seated next to Nafikov in a Chally sauna, is facing charges of organizing the kidnappings and murders of leading Chally businessmen (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 September 2003). Amirov said the picture is seven or eight years old and, at the time, Nafikov was unfamiliar with Tagiryanov, who was introduced to the city prosecutor as "a businessman from Moscow." Amirov said Nafikov, who is investigating the Tagiryanov case, has received threats demanding that the case be closed; he called the publication of the photo an attempt to compromise Nafikov's work.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Investigators Search Office Of Bashkir Presidential Candidate
Representatives from the Russian Interior Ministry's Investigation Committee and Federal Service on Economic and Tax Crimes on 23 October searched the Corus-Holding company and an office of its former director, Federation Council Senator from Bashkortostan Igor Izmestev, who uses it as a public reception, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 24 October. Corus-Holding, one of subsidiaries of Corus Group controlled by the son of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, Ural, was a founder of Corus-Baikonur, the company that was allegedly used in 2001 by the Bashkir Ufa and Novo-Ufimsk oil refineries to avoid paying 12 billion rubles ($400 million) in taxes (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 February, 13 and 20 March, 26 May, 6 June, and 17, 18 and 23 July 2003, "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 March 2003).

The same day, the Volga Federal District office of the Russian Interior Ministry's Investigation Committee seized documents in several Bashkir oil refineries subordinate to Bashneftekhim, including Ufaneftekhim and the Ufa and Novo-Ufimsk oil refineries, RosBalt reported the same day, citing an unidentified source in the directorate. "Kommersant-Daily" cited the Bashkir Interior Ministry press service as saying that employees of the republican ministry "did not take part in any investigation measures." Several days before, Izmestev entered the Bashkir presidential race and is considered President Rakhimov's main "back-up." Izmestev's candidacy is disadvantageous to Rakhimov's main rival, former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko, the daily commented. Sergei Veremeenko's brother, Aleksandr, heads the Bashkir Tax Ministry.

Rakhimov Goes On Leave For Election
President Rakhimov went on leave for the period of the presidential election campaign, RosBalt reported on 23 October, citing Bashkir Central Election Commission (TsIK) Chairman Baryi Kinjegulov. The move is required by federal election law, which requires high-ranking state officials to take leave of their posts within three days after registering as candidates. Rakhimov, who is a member of Unified Russia's supreme council, heads Bashkortostan's regional party list in the State Duma elections and is also running for re-election. Both the State Duma and Bashkir presidential elections will be held on 7 December. Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov was appointed acting president.

TsIK Head Names Remaining Five Registered Presidential Candidates...
Bashkir TsIK Chairman Kinjegulov told Interfax on 23 October that 10 people have been registered in the presidential campaign. In addition to the five candidates previously reported (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 October 2003), they include: farmer Khesen Idiatullin, Federation Council Senator Igor Izmestev, Andrei Pykhachev (unemployed), Tatar gymnasium director Nurmokhemmet Khoseinov, and Minneftekhimprom President Vener Khelilov. Kinjegulov said eight of them paid the registration fee of 9.75 million rubles ($324,000), while Khoseinov presented more than 71,000 signatures and Arinin submitted both money and signatures.

...As 77 Apply As State Duma Candidates
Kinjegulov told a press conference on 23 October that 77 applicants have presented documents to register as candidates for the State Duma, of which so far four have been registered, one has been refused, and six withdrew their candidacies. The remaining applications are still being checked. Kinjegulov said 17 parties and electoral blocs have proposed candidates. Unified Russia, the Communist Party, the United Russian Party Rus, and the Agrarian Party of Russia have candidates in the republic's six electoral districts; Yabloko and the Motherland bloc in four districts; the Great Russia-Eurasian Union bloc and the Liberal Democratic Party in three; and the Union of Rightist Forces and the Party of Russia's Rebirth-Russian Party of Life bloc in two districts.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova