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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 29, 2005

29 March 2005
Tatarstan Discusses Cooperation With Microsoft
Olga Dergunova, president of Microsoft in Russia and the CIS, met with Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 28 March to discuss the terms of the future long-term agreement between the software corporation and Tatarstan's government, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Microsoft reportedly offered its services in developing Tatar-language multimedia software, electronic government portals, teaching Tatar university students to use the latest information technologies, and introducing the new copyright system for securing the republic's art and software packagers. Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Dergunova asked them to allow three more weeks before announcing concrete results of the talks.

Tatarstan Cited Among Regions With Relatively High Wages
According to the "Rossiya" weekly's ranking of average monthly wages in Russian regions in 2004, North Ossetia had the lowest average wage at 3973 rubles ($141), a 36 percent in increase from 2003, while Tatarstan was rated 58th out of 89 regions with an average wage of $198, a 22.3 percent increase from 2003. According to the weekly, Bashkortostan was 54th, while Moscow was 68th.

Tatar Cabinet Resigns
Following President Mintimer Shaimiev's reintroduction as Tatarstan's president on 25 March, Prime Minister Minnikhanov announced on 28 March that members of his cabinet are to be considered as acting before the president appoints the new government, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Minnikhanov used the government meeting on 28 March to ask his subordinates to offer their resignations so that there are less formalities to deal with in case of a cabinet reshuffle. Minnikhanov also announced his official resignation. Shaimiev is to name the new prime minister within one week.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

New Property Minister Nominated
President Murtaza Rakhimov signed a decree on 28 March appointing Rail Sarbaev property minister, Bashinform and RosBalt reported the same day. Sarbaev, 43, served previously as the head of the Rosselkhoznadzor's Bashkortostan board. In 1994-2000 Sarbaev was Zianchura Raion administration head, while in 2000-05 he headed the Sibai administration. Sarbaev's predecessor in the minister's post, Zofer Ebdrekhimov, was dismissed by President Rakhimov on 22 March for "inadequate implementation of official duties."

Election Official Presents Referendum Results...
Bashkir Central Election Commission (USK) Chairman Baryi Kinjegulov told a press conference on 28 March that the 27 March referendum on the structure of local self-government bodies was held in accordance with legislation and its results cannot be contested in court, RosBalt reported on 28 March. Kinjegulov was reacting to opposition statements on the intention to appeal the referendum results in court. Kinjegulov said the USK agreed every step during preparations for the referendum with the legal departments of the Bashkir government and the Russian Central Election Commission. He added that the complex formulation of the question proposed for the vote is "legally correct."

Ninety percent of voters backed the system of local self-government bodies including local councils and city, town, and raion administrations, Interfax-Povolzhe reported. Kinjegulov said turnout was 94.5 percent in rural raions, 76 percent in cities and towns, and 63 percent in Ufa. Some 96 percent of rural residents, 88 percent of city and town residents, and 87 percent of Ufa residents voted in favor of the proposed system of local self-government.

The order of electing city, town, and raion administration heads will be determined by January 2006 as is required by federal law, Kinjegulov said. The law permits three variants, including direct public elections, electing by councils of deputies and hiring under contracts. Kinjegulov added that the third variant is the most suitable for Bashkortostan.

...As Opposition Believes Results Falsified
"Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 29 March quoted the head of the coordinating council of the united opposition, Ramil Bignov, as saying, "people were forced to vote for the variant suitable for authorities by deception." Bignov said the voting results were falsified since exit polls by the opposition showed that people thought they voted for direct elections of heads of city, town, and raion administrations. The question proposed for the referendum asked whether the electorate agreed to maintain a two-level system of local self-government bodies including a local town or raion council headed by a chairman and a local administration led by an administration head. It did not, however, specify the way of electing or appointing administration heads. Numerous media outlets mistakenly reported that the referendum was on voting for direct elections of local administration heads.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova