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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 28, 2005

28 June 2005
U.S. Ambassador Visits Kazan
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow arrived in Kazan on 27 June for a three-day visit to take part in the Days of America in Kazan on 28-29 June, which is devoted to Kazan's 1,000th anniversary, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 27 June. A cultural and educational program was organized by the U.S. Embassy in Russia within the framework of the event. The diplomat will attend on 28 June the opening of a camp where 100 children from lower class Kazan families will study English. The same day Vershbow is scheduled to meet with Kazan State University students.

Government Backs TAIF's Projects
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told reporters on 27 June that the TAIF group has joined the republic's five budget-constituting companies for the current year and plans to increase by at least threefold the volume of its activity by 2010, Tatar-inform reported the same day. Minnikhannov was giving a briefing on the results of the company's shareholders meeting. The premier said the republic's Security Council approved at its recent meeting TAIF's petrochemical projects, which will require billions of rubles in investments and whose plans will be backed by the state. In 2004, TAIF made a 15.8 billion ruble profit.

Rogozin Threatens Shaimiev With Legal Prosecution
Motherland party leader Dmitrii Rogozin said that the statement by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev criticizing the Motherland party members for what he called anti-Semitic statements (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 June 2005) was "a planned attack by the Russian presidential administration against the only consistent opposition party," reported on 27 June, citing the Motherland press service. Rogozin claimed that Shaimiev himself "should not think that his skill in playing the nationalist card will help him avoid justice for his extreme separatism and allow him to avoid responsibility for his tricks during the privatization of the oil business in Tatarstan. We promise to hold our own independent parliamentary investigation into the facts of the participation of Shaimiev family members in privatization deals using the administrative power of Tatarstan's president," Rogozin said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Municipal Elections Face Low Turnout...
According to preliminary results of the 26 June municipal elections in Bashkortostan announced by the Bashkir Central Election Commission on 27 June, voting was declared invalid in 11 municipal districts where either the turnout was too low or the "against all" candidate won the election, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 27 June. USK Chairman Baryi Kinjegulov said elections were held in 54 of the 104 newly formed municipal entities. Specifically, turnout was below the required 20 percent in two districts of Tuimazy, three districts of Neftekamsk, and one district each in Salawat and Beloretsk. A total of 1,783 candidates ran for 714 municipal posts. By-elections to the State Assembly were valid in three of four districts in which elections were held. In Ufa's Zheleznodorozhnyi Raion, the "against all" candidate was the winner. Kinjegulov said "this is the first precedent in Bashkortostan when elections were recognized invalid in districts because of low turnout and 'protest' voting." Local self-government bodies in the rest of the 50 municipal entities will be elected in October. Average turnout in the republic was 53 percent, including 73 percent in rural areas and 33 percent in cities and towns. The lowest turnout of some 22 percent took place in Ufa, Neftekamsk, and Beloretsk.

...And Electoral Violations
An RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 27 June cited representatives of the nongovernmental Golos voters' rights organization reporting violations during the 26 June municipal elections in the republic. In some polling districts ballot boxes were located in another room than the one where ballots were issued so that observers could not witness the voting procedure. Penciled notes were found in five polling districts on the lists of voters marking those who definitely will not come to vote. In two polling districts, observers were expelled during the tabulation of votes. In one district, Bashkir Central Election Commission member Ruslan Shakirov was not permitted to take part in the counting of votes.

The campaign for the Ufa city council was the most controversial, as it was marked by opposition between Ufa authorities and representatives of the fuel-and-energy complex companies. Of 81 candidates backed by the companies, 41 were refused registration under various pretexts. Voting totals reported by election commissions exceeded, in some districts, by nearly twofold data obtained by observers. Member of the coordinating council on local self-government, Viktor Shmakov, told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 28 June that "according to the data of our observers...actual turnout in elections in Ufa was even below 20 percent. One or two people came to some polling districts during an hour."

Agency To Fight Deliberate Bankruptcies To Be Formed
A government meeting on 25 June decided to establish a special body to supervise anticrisis management and fight deliberate bankruptcies, RosBalt reported on 27 June, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. At the meeting, Bashkir presidential administration head Radii Khebirov mentioned that President Murtaza Rakhimov was charged with creating a unified system in the republic of anticrisis management in his annual report to the State Assembly. The meeting urged the Bashkir Property Relations Ministry to more thoroughly supervise the activities of realtors and the validity of their decisions. The republic Audit Chamber and law enforcement agencies were ordered to arrange system inspections of companies under bankruptcy and to develop measures to prevent the forcible absorption of companies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova