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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 21, 2003

21 November 2003
TsIK Official Says Pre-Election Situation In Tatarstan Is Common Across Russia
Tatarstan is not a leader in democratizing the election process in Russia, neither is it a leader in the number of violations, Russian Central Election Commission (TsIK) member Yevgenii Kolyushin told reporters after completing his two-day visit to Kazan on 20 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. He added that the situation surrounding the Duma elections in the republic was "stable in general, but there is some hidden pressure. It seems to me that the administrative resources are very strong here." However, Kolyushin failed to mention any examples of election violations aside from the fact that the only place offered for Duma candidates free of charge for public meetings was in the outskirts of Kazan. Tatar Central Election Commission Chairman Anatolii Fomin reacted to this by saying candidates were free to lease premises for public meetings in the city center and that some had done so. Kolyushin said most of the Duma candidates in Tatarstan are complaining of the overwhelming coverage of the Unified Russia party in the media, "a situation, shared by the entire country, but in this case it is hard to talk about election violations, because the informational imbalance does not stand for the unbalanced political promotion."

Draft Budget Sails Through Tatar Parliament
Tatarstan's State Council passed next year's republican budget in the final reading and sent it to the president for his signature on 20 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The budget was calculated with the expected world oil price at $20 per barrel and the exchange rate at 31.3 rubles per $1.

The income is projected at about $1.37 billion, while expenditures currently exceed that amount by some $86 million. The draft also predicts that Tatarstan's gross domestic product in 2004 will grow by 4.1 percent.

EES Top Manager Visits Kazan
Unified Energy Systems (EES) head Anatolii Chubais met with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev in Kazan on 20 November to sign a treaty on joint construction of extra buildings for the Kazan Energy Industry University, which Chubais said prepares experts not only for Tatarstan but also for neighboring regions, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Chubais, who is also one of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) party leaders, also told the reporters that he and Shaimiev, who is on Unified Russia's Duma party list, exchanged views about the pre-election situation. They reportedly failed to find a common solution on the future participation of EES in Tatenergo, the recently privatized company supplying electricity and heating to the entire republic.

News Agency Claims Shaimiev In Final Term
Kama-Press wrote on 20 November that President Shaimiev has decided not to seek the presidency for a fourth term, although it is permitted by federal laws. Shaimiev's current term expires in 2006, and the agency assumed that he is "single-handedly choosing an heir to replace him."

Meanwhile, the news agency is known to be backed by the former Chally mayor and former representative of Tatarstan in the Federation Council, Refget Altynbaev. One of the leaders of Russia's Party of Life, Altynbaev is considered to be a possible candidate for the Tatar presidency in 2006.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Central Election Commission Fails To Give Veremeenko Election Certificate.
The Bashkir Central Election Commission (USK) refused on 20 November to approve the candidacy for the Bashkir president of former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko, "Kommersant-Daily," "Izvestia," and "Vremya novostei" reported on 21 November. Veremeenko was registered as a candidate by the Russian Central Election Commission (TsIK) on 17 November (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 November 2003). Veremeenko said he will appeal the court ruling in the Bashkir Supreme Court.

TsIK member Nina Kulyasova, who is visiting Bashkortostan to supervise preparations for the elections, said postponing the issuance of the candidate's certificate does not annul the TsIK's resolution on his registration. She also said the USK could not avoid implementation of the TsIK's verdict. Speaking at a press conference in Ufa on 20 November, Unified Russia leader Boris Gryzlov said the USK has the right to appeal the TsIK resolution on registration of Veremeenko as presidential candidate, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. The USK has previously argued that the TsIK does not have the power to register candidates in regional elections and that decisions by the Bashkir USK can only be annulled in court.

Unified Russia Leader Expresses Support For Rakhimov...
Visiting Ufa on 20 November, Unified Russia leader Gryzlov stated his support for incumbent President Murtaza Rakhimov in the 7 December Bashkir presidential elections, RosBalt reported the same day. Gryzlov said he believes that the candidate from "the party of power" will win the elections and that "the next years in Bashkortostan will pass under his guidance." Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel, who also came to Ufa to attend a conference on the role of Unified Russia in strengthening Russian statehood, said, "we, Urals residents, will support [Murtaza Rakhimov]." Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference following the Unified Russia forum, Rakhimov said, "I do not have any doubt that I will win." Commenting on the electoral situation in the republic, Rakhimov said that the campaign has been civilized so far.

...Says Doubling Russia's GDP By 2010 Is Realistic
Speaking at a meeting of a Greater Urals association in Ufa on 20 November, Gryzlov said the aim of doubling Russia's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010, proposed by President Vladimir Putin recently, is realistic, Bashinform reported the same day. Gryzlov said Unified Russia's experts analyzed the development of 150 countries over the past 50 years and revealed that, in 68 of them, there were periods when they doubled their GDP within 10 years and three countries even tripled it. Gryzlov said there are regions in Russia that are already experiencing this type of growth. He cited the Leningrad Oblast, which has a 22 percent annual growth, and Orenburg Oblast, where it totals 17 percent. He also said Bashkortostan has developed dynamically in the last few years and is close to a 8 percent growth in GDP.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova