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Bashkir Parliament Meeting To Discuss 'Drought'

Murtaza Rakhimov (file photo)

Murtaza Rakhimov (file photo)

UFA, Russia -- The Bashkir parliament will meet in a special session on July 15, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

The parliament, which went on summer recess last week, is officially reconvening to discuss the drought-like conditions in the region.

But several observers, including Ufa-based political analyst Ildar Gabdrafikov, say the real reason for the meeting is to discuss who will succeed longtime President Murtaza Rakhimov.

"They say it is about the drought, but I personally think this is not the real reason for the emergency session," Gabdrafikov told RFE/RL. "I think [Rakhimov] will announce his resignation and probably introduce a new leader."

Rakhimov, 76, was first elected president of Bashkortostan in 1993. Over the past year he has repeatedly criticized the central government's policies toward the country's regions.

Russian state television has also shown documentary reports in recent days that are very critical of Rakhimov and the situation in Bashkortostan.

On July 12, Rakhimov met privately in Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's chief of staff, Sergei Naryshkin, to start talks on who should succeed him. Rakhimov's presidential term officially expires in October 2011.

The next president of Bashkortostan will be selected by Medvedev from a list of at least three candidates proposed by Bashkortostan's chapter of the ruling United Russia party.

"Possible [presidential] candidates are Ralif Safin, the former vice president of LUKoil and now a senator from the Altai region in Russia's Federation Council; Rustem Khamitov, former environment minister in Bashkortostan and the head of RusGydro; and Radiy Khabirov, the former chief of Rakhimov's administration. All three are originally from Bashkortostan," Gabdrafikov said.

Once Medvedev selects someone, his choice will need the approval of Bashkortostan's parliament.