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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 18, 2005

18 March 2005
Party Of Life Official Says Shaimiev Has Right To Fourth Term
Refqet Altynbaev, deputy head of Russia's Party of Life and a former mayor of Tatarstan's second city Chally, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 16 March that he welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to abolish direct elections for regional governors. He said gubernatorial elections were often marred by unfair practices by local administrations and therefore would have led to diminishing voter trust in elections. Altynbaev, who was long regarded as a political rival of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, said he thought the incumbent president has a right to serve a fourth term. Altynbaev said Putin "had had the opportunity" to accept or reject Shaimiev's request for another term in office. Despite his political agenda of challenging Shaimiev's polices within and outside Tatarstan, Altynbaev abandoned the idea of running for Tatarstan's president in 2001.

Kazan Universities Maintain Quota For Students From Distant Tatar Communities
Thirty-nine ethnic Tatars from the autonomous Chinese district of Sinjan-Uygur will be granted the right to study at universities in Kazan in 2005, Tatarinform reported on 17 March. According to an agreement between the Russian and Tatar Education Ministries signed in 2004 and with the support of the federal Foreign Ministry, Kazan's universities invite 70-80 students every year from foreign Tatar communities around the world to study Tatar language and culture as part of their university studies.

KamAZ Said To Have Lobbied Hard To Maintain Tariffs On Imported Parts
According to "Economika i Zhizn" on 17 March, the Chally-based KamAZ concern was among Russia's leading automotive enterprises that lobbied ahead of the recent decision by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to suspend the endorsement of a bill lowering import tariffs on car-assembly parts. The Russian automotive industry considered the bill harmful to domestic automotive producers competing against international concerns that run assembly lines in Russia.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov, Rossel Say They Will Serve Out Their Terms
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov and visiting Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel told a press conference on 17 March in Ufa that they are not going to resign ahead of schedule and appeal to the Russian president to reappoint them, "MK v Bashkortostane" reported. Rakhimov said, "In any case, business executives, not servicemen or actors, should be appointed to head regions."

Citing unidentified sources in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, reported on 18 March that "the party of strong governors," which includes Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Rakhimov, and Rossel, was strongly urged by the Kremlin to resign before their terms end. Following Shaimiev's resignation (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 March 2005), Rakhimov and Rossel met in Ufa to consult behind closed doors. cited an unidentified source close to Rakhimov as the two are trying to get absolute guarantees of inviolability at least until the end of their current terms. Rakhimov and Rossel realize that even if appointed now by the Russian president, they could easily be dismissed in several months, the source added.

Rakhimov Dismisses More Fuel-And-Energy-Sector Managers
Bashkir Petrochemical Company (BNKhK) General Director Viktor Gantsev was dismissed and replaced by Bashkir Deputy Economy Minister Nur Seifullin on 16 March, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 17 March. Gantsev and four others BNKhK also lost their seats on the board of directors. All are close to Ural Rakhimov, the son of the Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov. The daily cited an unidentified source on BNKhK's board as saying the company is preparing a lawsuit to get back controlling stakes in Bashkir oil refineries that were transferred to the Bashkirskii Kapital company controlled by Ural Rakhimov.

Of the seven members of the board of directors, only former Bashneft General Director Ildar Iskhaqov and Bashkir Property Minister Zofer Ebdrekhimov kept their seats. Newly appointed members include recently appointed Bashkir Fuel company General Director Robert Wahapov, Deputy Foreign Economic Relations Minister Lena Izotova, government administration department head Gayaz Sheripov, presidential-administration head Ilshat Tajetdinov, and Seifullin. On 11 March, several supporters of Ural Rakhimov were dismissed from the Bashkir Fuel company.

Following a recent plot in the Bashkir parliament to have Ural Rakhimov appointed speaker (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 February 2005), President Murtaza Rakhimov issued an order to return to the state the stakes in Bashkir companies that had been transferred to Bashkirskii Kapital. "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 18 March quoted President Rakhimov as saying, "We will return assets of the republic's fuel-and-energy sector back to the state in the nearest future." Rakhimov added that officials should be held responsible for transferring state-run stakes to Bashkirskii Kapital. "We will dismiss several ministers who took part in this," Rakhimov said.

Parliament Adopts Bill On Preterm Recall Of Deputies
The Bashkir State Assembly passed on 17 March a law that provides for the first time a procedure for the preterm recall of a State Assembly deputy, Interfax-Povolzhe reported the same day, citing assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev. According to the legislation, a deputy's powers can be removed ahead of schedule, if, among other reasons, a corresponding committee of the legislature decides that the deputy fails to fulfill official duties. Tolkachev said that a similar law existed in Bashkortostan only during the Soviet period but was never applied in practice. There is no similar federal law in Russia, but three other federation entities have such legislation, Tolkachev said. He noted that the law will allow deputies to be disciplined and help defend the rights of the citizens who elected those deputies. Tolkachev added that former UralSib President Azat Qormanaev attended only one session of the parliament and his electorate made numerous complaints that he does not defend their rights, "Komsomolskaya pravda-Ufa" reported on 18 March. Qormanaev is reportedly living abroad.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova