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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 25, 2003

25 July 2003
Speaker Discusses Political Issues With Federal Officials
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin met on 20 July in Moscow with Russian presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin, Tatar-inform reported on 24 July. Issues connected to the upcoming State Duma elections were on the agenda. A 21 July meeting of Mukhametshin with Russian deputy presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak was devoted to the results of an international conference on the constitutional status of regions in Russia and other European countries that was held earlier this month in Kazan. The same day, Mukhametshin had a meeting with Russian Central Electoral Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov devoted to legislative regulation of the formation of legislative bodies in regions.

TYG Chooses Unified Russia As Ally In Duma Elections
The Tatarstan-New Century (TYG) political council presidium announced on 24 July that it will support Unified Russia in the December State Duma elections, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The political council passed an appeal to participants of a congress of the republic's political movement scheduled for September, in which it expressed solidarity with the Tatar leadership's policy of promoting principles of raising self-dependence of Russian regions. It also praised Tatar authorities for the policy of harmonization of the interests of Moscow and federation subjects fixed in the Tatar Constitution and the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Tatarstan. The appeal also backed the political position of Unified Russia Supreme Council, co-Chairman and Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and said the movement will participate in the Duma elections as Unified Russia's ally.

TYG leader Farid Mukhametshin said he considers Unified Russia a party that will use the regions as its basis, and the movement cannot divide itself among any other parties. Mukhametshin said, however, that he backs the position by Union of Rightist Forces on budget federalism, which is critical of budget relations between Moscow and regions. Mukhametshin said budget federalism does not exist in Russia as regions are currently not interested in collecting more taxes. Mukhametshin said TYG can hold negotiations and form a bloc with any party as regards the adoption of a budget code.

Russian Party Of Life Reports About Discrimination In Tatarstan...
A commission of the Russian Party of Life headed by the party's Nationwide Council Executive Committee secretary, General Vladimir Shuralev, visited Tatarstan to check reports about violations of the law on political parties and discrimination against party members and supporters in Tatarstan, RosBalt reported on 24 July. The commission was established after the party's leadership received numerous complaints from republic residents.

Specifically, members of the party's local branches in Kazan and Chally told the visitors that they have been ordered to leave the party and to join other parties, are illegally fired and threatened with physical reprisal, and face interference in their businesses, according to the report. An unnamed commission member told the news agency that "the basis of democracy and civil society, the rule of law, is being undermined in Tatarstan." The commission collected materials for an appeal to prosecutors and the courts.

On 24 July Shuralev informed party Chairman Sergei Mironov about the results of the visit. Party of Life Deputy Chairman Refqet Altynbaev, formerly the Tatar president's representative on the Federation Council, was recalled for promoting the Party of Life in the republic to spite President Mintimer Shaimiev, who is a co-chairman of Unified Russia (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 14 and 24 April 2003).

...As Party Of Fairness, Development Of Russia Forms Branch In Tatarstan
The party of Fairness and Development of Russia held an organizational meeting in Kazan on 23 July, Tatarinform reported the next day. The party, a successor of the Islamic Party, promotes equality of the peoples of Russia and preservation of its cultures, languages, and customs. The party has changed its name in accordance with the new law on parties, which prohibits religious or ethnic affiliation. The meeting formed a political council of the Tatar branch and elected Tatar Public Center Chairman Reshit Yegeferov as its head. Yegeferov said there are more than 100 party members in the republic, including intellectuals, teachers, scholars, and Muslim leaders.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Audit Chamber Head Says De-Privatization Of Property In Bashkortostan Not On The Agenda
Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin said the chamber does not favor the de-privatization of state property in Bashkortostan, the Oreanda news agency reported on 24 July. Stepashin said that the Audit Chamber had made critical comments on the management of state property by the Bashkir authorities, but said that didn't extend to de-privatization.

Unified Russia Most Popular Party In Bashkortostan
Unified Russia is the most popular party in Bashkortostan, according to a new survey carried out by the Center of Strategic Analysis and Prognosis and the Glas Naroda (Voice of the People) public opinion center, RosBalt reported on 24 July. The head of the Center of Strategic Analysis and Prognosis, Dmitrii Olshanskii, presented the results of the survey at a seminar titled "Mass Media and Elections" in Ufa on 24 July and said there is a large margin between Unified Russia (7.92 out of a maximum of 10 points) and other parties on the top-10 list. The other parties polled as follows: Communist Party (5.29), Agrarian Party of Russia (2.79), Union of Rightist Forces (2.61), People's Party of Russia (2.11), Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (2.1), and Yabloko (1.86). Olshanskii said that Unified Russia's lead in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan is a result of the "strong administrative power formed in the republic." In a similar survey in Kazan, Samara, and Saratov, the Communist Party obtained the highest rating (6.58), followed by Unified Russia (6.39).

Analyst Says Russian Leadership's 'Dictatorship Of Law' Campaign Will Damage Country
Speaking at the same seminar, Olshanskii said the "dictatorship of law" campaign announced in Russia is the best way to kill glasnost and freedom of speech, RosBalt reported on 24 July. He said legislation in Russia "implements objective social order" and in the run-up to December Duma and presidential elections such an order would reduce the number of parties vying for power. Olshanskii said that the federal law on mass media is aimed at the elimination of competitiveness within the political space. He said the law on mass media will become a "dictatorship of the Central Election Commission demanding that journalists introduce the dictatorship of the mass media over candidates and parties." For that, he said, the political elite has tried to set up "one super-party" in the country, adding that the "dictatorship of law" campaign is an attempt to establish a "quasi-totalitarian system." Those efforts will likely result in a lower turnout, Olshanskii said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova