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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 9, 2003


9 December 2003
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Shaimiev Says Election Results Show Trust In Putin...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told a press conference on 8 December that in Tatarstan the Kremlin-backed Unified Russia party received the highest percentage of votes throughout Russia in the 7 December State Duma elections. Shaimiev said the election results showed that the population trusted the republican authorities. The regional list of the party was headed by State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, while the Tatar president was on Unified Russia's federal list. But most importantly, Shaimiev continued, the results show that people trust the Russian president, who openly backed the party during the campaign. "The party's advent to power, supported by the president of the country, will positively influence the investment climate...as the attractiveness of many companies will grow and their share price will increase," he said. Primary importance should be assigned to speeding up political as well as economic reforms, Shaimiev added.

...Comments On Rightist Parties' Defeat...
Shaimiev also expressed "sincere regret" that the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) did not collect enough votes to be represented in the Duma. "Rightist forces are to be represented in a society where democratic reforms are under way, although they are unable to become leaders...and obtain a majority in elections," Shaimiev said, adding, "this is impossible under the current state of our society and degree of economic development." Shaimiev also said the rightists should now conduct a serious analysis of their defeat. He added, "four years will very soon pass and I would like to see their return." He commented that leaders of rightist parties, with the exclusion of SPS candidate Anatolii Chubais, are "to some extent idealists" and added that, "it would be good if 5 percent of voters ready to support that party existed in society." He said, "SPS lacks organizers, and this could be seen in Tatarstan" where the rightist forces gathered over 5 percent in the previous elections.

...And Unexpected Success Of Motherland
Shaimiev said the fact that the Motherland National-Patriotic Union bloc collected enough votes to be represented in the State Duma was "quite unexpected for everybody," adding that, "this is the result of the split within the Communist Party." The program aims of Motherland National-Patriotic Union leader Sergei Glazev are not as radical as those of Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, so they attracted part of the electorate who were disappointed in the Communist Party and its leadership, Shaimiev said. Shaimiev predicted that "the union of [Duma deputy Sergei] Glazev and [Duma deputy Dmitrii] Rogozin will not last forever. I think they are hardly compatible with each other. They should either free themselves from the ideology of national-socialism or set to reforms and move closer to the centrist position."

Murder Trial Of Egerje Administration Head Begins
Behind closed doors, the Tatar Supreme Court held on 8 December a preliminary hearing into the murder of Egerje Raion administration head Refis Seyetov (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 and 18 September and 11 November 2002), intertat.ru reported the same day. Tatar State Council Deputy Rostem Zakirov, who was Seyetov's predecessor as head of the administration, is accused of contracting the killing. Seven members of an Udmurtia-based organized criminal group, who investigators believe organized and committed the murder, are also in the dock. According to the prosecution, Zakirov held Seyetov responsible for his dismissal from his post as administration head.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Veremeenko 'Expected' Second Round
Bashkir presidential candidate Sergei Veremeenko told a news conference in Ufa on 8 December that although he expected to get more than the 25 percent of the vote he received in the 7 December elections, he "expected a second round," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 8 December 2003). His main rival, President Murtaza Rakhimov, received 43.14 percent of the vote, while to win the election in the first round it was necessary to receive more than 50 percent of the total amount of voters registered in the republic.

Veremeenko described the high turnout figures, about 78 percent, as an indicator of that "people believed that the elections will be democratic." He said that before the second round of elections on 21 December, when he will face off with Rakhimov, he will meet with the other opposition candidate, Relif Safin, to discuss further actions.

As for the general conduct of the 7 December vote, Veremeenko said that his monitors had to deal with "extremely heavy" resistance from police and local election commission officials while trying to do their jobs. He also cited some discoveries of unregistered ballot blanks and cases of unauthorized additions of ballots to the ballot boxes, which are currently being investigated by the republican Prosecutor's Office.

Veremeenko said that it would have been premature to expect victory in the first round of elections, but in the second round he had more chance of claiming victory. "In any case," he emphasized, "the struggle will be breathtaking and interesting," because then it will be "be much harder for the republican authorities to use their administrative resources so widely."

Independent Observers Reportedly Subjected To Violence
Vladimir Barabash, coordinator of the operational headquarters of the independent observers center that followed the conduct of the vote and vote counting in Bashkortostan's presidential elections, told Bashnews on 8 December that "for us it is hard to maintain impartiality in our work, when we are dealing with such appalling facts as the serious injury of an observer representing Relif Safin or the OSCE observers' bus being attacked with stones by unidentified villains. What can we do in such cases? We can only register them."

The observers center claims to be independent of all of the candidates in Bashkortostan's presidential race and used its own Vybor automated monitoring system to present alternative election results, which reportedly had smaller fluctuations during the vote-counting process than the figures reported by the Bashkir Central Election Commission. Just as during the 7 December vote, the center's data on the 21 December vote will also be published at bashnews.ru.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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