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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 26, 2004

26 October 2004
Tatar Parliament Reluctantly Backs Abolishing Regional Elections
The 25 October session of Tatarstan's State Council revealed that both opposition and pro-governmental factions have acknowledged that Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposed initiative to abolish elections for governors violates the country s democratic principles, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day.

State Council Deputies Razil Weliev and Tufan Minnulin (Unified Russia) said during their speeches during the parliamentary session that under the current circumstances Tatarstan is unlikely to manage to preserve the liberal values earned during last decade. Other Unified Russia deputies, representing the majority in parliament, stated that Tatarstan cannot be considered one of Russia's weaker regions that could thus benefit from having Russia's president appoint their leaders.

In his address to parliament, President Mintimer Shaimiev admitted that he agreed with the deputies, noting that if in [the Russian State] Duma they had the same opportunities to expressing their opinions, if Russia had the same manageability, the same extent of economic liberalization and stability, as well as the same wise parliament [as in Tatarstan], President Putin would not have to come out with an initiative of this kind. Shaimiev later told the deputies that given that 70 percent of Russia's regional leaders have proved to be inept, while more than half of them have come to power by illegal means, Putin's initiative is the only solution that is acceptable to him.

As a result, Tatarstan's parliament cast 57 votes in favor of Putin's proposal, while 19 votes were cast against and three deputies abstained. In its official comment, the Tatar State Council suggested that the draft law on eliminating regional elections should drop its provision for dissolving regional parliaments in the event they fail to approve the Russian president's appointment more than twice, and add a stipulation that there should be no mediators between the appointee and Russian leader. The parliament also promoted an amendment saying that the law on abolishing elections of regional leaders will be cancelled the moment Putin's term expires.

Zyuganov Aware Of Opposition Within Tatar, Bashkir Communist Ranks
Speaking at the 23 October plenum of Russia's Communist Party, Chairman Gennadii Zyuganov said that the heads of the party's regional committee in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, as well as some members of the regional committees are refusing to comply with decisions of the 10th Party Congress, thus discrediting and disorganizing party work, "Kommersant-Daily" wrote on 26 October.

Zyuganov's statement apparently came in response to attempts by a local Communist Party branch in June to remove Aleksandr Salii as the head of Tatarstan's Communists. That month, Salii managed to remain in power by gaining Zyuganov's support and promising to back him during his open confrontation with present Communist leader and Ivanovo Governor Vladimir Tikhomov. Salii reneged on his pledge and supported Zyuganov's opponent, which later led to his dismissal by the Moscow office of the Communist Party, as well as the leader of Bashkir Communists, Valentin Nikitin.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan Reports Soaring Foreign Trade
In the first nine months of 2004, Bashkortostan's external-trade turnover increased by 31.3 percent year-on-year to total $2.285 billion, the head of the republican customs office, Nazil Galikeev, told reporters on 25 October, according to Bashinform. The republic's foreign trade is dominated by export-oriented goods, with 80 percent of the total comprising oil products sold abroad.

Bashkir Real-Estate Companies Bear Hopes For State-Owned Buildings
The vice president of the Russian real-estate managers guild, Igor Gorskii, argued to a conference of republican real-estate representatives on 25 October that the state cannot effectively manage its real-estate holdings and therefore private real-estate companies should assume this function, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. Private real-estate firms are already cooperating with the state in connection with certificates used to disburse apartments for military servicemen, Gorskii said, while private companies in Moscow and St. Petersburg already manage 98 percent of the state's property. Meanwhile, Real Estate Association head Rustem Kamalov told the daily in an interview that none of the state property in Bashkortostan is currently managed by a private company. Private property management could held establish a more balanced and dynamic real-estate market in the republic, Kamalov said, adding that Bashkortostan has among the highest residential and commercial real-estate prices in the federation.

Federal Inspectors Praise Vigilance Of Bashkortostan's Emergency Services
Bashkortostan's state emergency services are largely ready to prevent and liquidate the effects of a disaster, according to the findings of a recent inspection by a Volga-Ural commission working under the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, Volgainform reported on 26 October. The inspections reportedly focused on nuclear, biological, and chemical defenses.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi