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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 4, 2000

4 October 2000
Tatarstan's State Council To Again Change Date Of Presidential Elections
Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, asked the republic's State Council to revise its decision on holding the presidential election on 24 December, an RFE/RL correspondent in Kazan reported on 3 October. Shaimiev urged the deputies to reschedule the elections back to their original date in March, as prescribed by Tatarstan's Presidential Election Act. During Shaimiev's vacation in Turkey on 22 September, the State Council amended that act and moved the presidential poll up to 24 December.

State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin told RFE/RL on 3 October that "according to Tatarstan law it is legal to change the date of a presidential election, setting it within a three-month range before or after the original day. According to federal laws, such alterations cannot be made. We have a different point of view and this is the right of our deputies, our State Council, and our republic. We wanted to negotiate on this issue...I think that we managed to convince the federal officials with our well-founded arguments. But the situation is that the federal norm remains, we have our own understanding, they [federal officials] have their own understanding. I think that our mutual desire is to hold clean elections in Tatarstan...We want to avoid possible legal suits with some of the presidential candidates and the poll. I think that conciliatory procedures on this issue will not show the weakness of the State Council but will show its strength." President Shaimiev told Tatarstan's parliament that the recent amendment "could only suit the situation when there is a president clinging tenaciously to his seat. This is not the situation we have now." Shaimiev noted that the amendment could cause "long-term contentions with the Russian Central Election Committee."

Russian Rosbusiness Consulting Agency ( commented on Shaimiev's initiative the same day by saying that "he has practically lost his chance of running for a third term." A special session of Tatarstan's State Council is to discuss the presidential poll date on 9 October.

Bashkortostan's Constitutional Court Chairman Backs Tatarstan Parliament's Decision
Bashkortostan's Constitutional Court chairman, Ildus Adigamov, commented on 3 October on the recent amendment to Tatarstan's Presidential Election Act made by the republican parliament.

He said at a press conference in Ufa that "Tatarstan's parliament has a right to reschedule the presidential elections to December without superseding its authority. This decision is absolutely legal." Adigamov said that "Bashkortostan was the first Russian territorial entity to change the date of presidential elections."

Commenting on the statement by the Russian Central Election Committee chairman who claimed that the decision by Tatarstan's parliament is illegal, Adigamov stated that "it's just Aleksandr Veshnyakov's personal opinion. Only the court can consider the legality of rescheduling elections."

Bashkortostan's President Says He Won't Run For A Third Term
Bashkortostan's president, Murtaza Rakhimov, said at a press conference in Ufa on 3 October that he would not run for a third term. He said "this is out of the question, but on the other hand, I'm not ready yet to name my successor." Rakhimov stated that only a member of his present team can continue his work, "some new person, especially some alien, does not have a chance of winning the elections in Bashkortostan, even if he is 300 percent supportive of the principles of a free market and democracy -- he just would not get the support of the people. I'm sure that in this case, generous offers and money bags just won't do." He said, "the three years of the presidency that I have left is enough for me. I was supposed to retire 10 years ago."

Rakhimov, who is 66, has served as Bashkortostan's president for seven years, having first been elected in December 1993.

Bulgar Identity Claim Rejected By European Court Of Human Rights
The European Court on Human Rights has ruled against a claim made by the president of the Bolgar National Congress, Gusman Khalilov, Tatarstan's press reported on 4 October. Khalilov reportedly complained that his rights were violated when Tatar and Russian authorities refused to issue him a passport with the Bulgar nationality listed instead of Tatar. The European Court stated that its decision is final and is not subject to any appeals or retrials. Khalilov promotes the idea of reviving the ethnic identity of Bulgar people, who are considered to be one of the ancestors of modern-day Tatars. According to Tatar historians, Bulgars lived on the territory of modern Tatarstan during medieval times. Khalilov is now reportedly waiting for a response from Tatarstan's parliament, which is to answer his request on removing the word "Tatarstan" from the name of the republic in his passport because it is "unacceptable and a violation of human rights."

By Iskender Nurmi