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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 10, 2002

10 July 2002
Court Ruling Gives Shaimiev Chance At Fourth Term In Office
The Russian Constitutional Court ruled on 9 July that the number of terms regional leaders spend in office is to be calculated beginning from 19 October 1999, when the law limiting regional heads to two terms in office was introduced, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today.

Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, who was elected for a third term in 2001, said: "The Constitutional Court decided to take into consideration the choice and will of the voters and resolutions made by the legislatures of [subjects of the Russian Federation] when making this decision.... I think that it would be more reasonable and democratic to elect the heads of federation subjects for no more than two terms," the presidential press service reported on 9 July.

The Tatar Constitution does not place any limits on the number of terms an individual can serve as president of the republic. Thus, in accordance with the court's ruling, it is legal for Shaimiev to seek a fourth term in office, which would be counted officially as his second.

Draft Commission Head Discusses Recruitment In Republic
Tatar Deputy Prime Minister Zilya Valeeva, who is also chairwoman of the republic's military recruitment commission, told a press conference in Kazan on 9 July that the percentage of military draftees exempted from obligatory service for health reasons has increased during the past five years from 17.8 percent in 1998 to 32.4 percent this year, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Valeeva added that as many as 2,300 of this year's recruits have not reported for service. The majority of them are from urban centers, such as Tuben Kama, Chally, and Kazan.

Valeeva said that so far this year, about 4,000 men born between 1975 and 1984 have been drafted into various departments of the Russian armed forces, including the infantry, the Border Guard Service, and the Interior Ministry.

Tatar Military Commissioner Rim Mustaev slammed the Russian State Duma for allowing alternative civilian service and said that those men who seek alternative service are "retarded in their intellectual development... [and that they] would become real citizens and wholesome husbands [following their military service]."

Valeeva replied by saying that the existence of alternative service reflects the level of society's democratic development.

Muslim Women File Suits Against Passport-Visa Service
The chairwoman of the Union of Muslim Women of Tatarstan, Almira Idiatullina, has filed a suit in the Vakhitov Raion Court of Kazan against the republic's Passport-Visa Service, Tatar-inform reported on 9 July. In the suit, Idiatullina claims that the passport service did not allow her to have a passport photo taken while wearing her traditional Muslim headdress. She told Tatar-inform that the court had accepted her suit along with 10 other similar complaints from members of the Muslim union.

Federal legislation stipulates that it is illegal to wear any sort of headgear or sunglasses while have a passport photograph taken. Idiatullina and other Muslim women have claimed that by being photographed while not wearing their headdresses, they are violating the Koran and Sharia law (see "Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7, 14 June 2002).

Kazan Businesses Appeal To Shaimiev For Assistance
The owners of small and medium-size businesses held a congress in Kazan on 9 July, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The congress adopted an appeal to President Shaimiev, asking for assistance in introducing streamlined procedures for renting commercial real estate in Tatarstan's capital, for reducing the number of parallel audits of private companies by both republican and municipal government bodies, and for ending obligatory payments collected by district administrations in Kazan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Court Ruling Gives Regional Leaders Extra Life
The Russian Constitutional Court ruled on 9 July that the number of terms regional leaders spend in office is to be calculated beginning from 1999. This effectively allows leaders such as Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov to seek a third or even a fourth term in office since he was elected to his second term in 1998, before the Russian State Duma passed a law limiting regional leaders to two terms in office, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The court said that regional leaders elected after 1999 are considered to be serving their first term. Thus, if Rakhimov were to win re-election in the 2003 Bashkir presidential election, he would legally be serving only his first term in office.

Federation Council Head To Visit Ufa
Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov is to arrive in Ufa on 13 July to meet with President Rakhimov and parliamentary Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported today. Mironov is also expected to meet with the head of Central Muslim Religious Board, Talgat Tajuddin, and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bashkortostan, Archbishop Nikon.

Bashneft Gets New General Director
At a meeting of its board of directors on 9 July, Bashneft oil company elected former Deputy General Director Ildar Iskhakov as general director, Finmarket reported the same day. Iskhakov will replace Ampir Sirtlanov who was recently appointed chairman of the board of directors of Bashkirenergo power company.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi