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Former Tatar President: Ruling Party Needs To Change

Mintimer Shaimiyev (file photo)

Mintimer Shaimiyev (file photo)

KAZAN, Russia -- The former president of Russia's Tatarstan Republic, Mintimer Shaimiyev, says the ruling United Russia party must make changes to its ethnic policies to be successful in future elections, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Shaimiyev, a founding member of United Russia, said on March 31 that he had some questions for the party's current leaders regarding some of its policies.

"United Russia has to consider some issues rather critically and change them [in order] to meet the challenges that lie ahead [in future elections]," he said.

Shaimiyev, 74, said the party's policy on ethnic problems and the ways it implements those policies were among the issues that need to be modified.

He also defended Tatarstan's right to have its own president, despite the fact the Russian parliament recently passed a law that bans all regional presidencies by 2015.

Shaimiyev, who was president of Tatarstan from 1991-2010, said the "Russian Constitution leaves that issue [about having a president] completely up to the republics, it's not a shared prerogative."

There are 21 republics among the 83 subjects of the Russian Federation.

Shaimiyev, a founder of United Russia when it was formed in 2001, has recently been increasingly critical of the party.

United Russia deputies hold 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party is led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.