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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 22, 2003

22 August 2003
Shaimiev Explains Nature Of His Support For Unified Russia
Speaking live on the Tatarstan-Yanga Gasyr radio on 22 August, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said that it "would not be true" to say that the decision to support the Unified Russia party in the December 2003 Russian State Duma elections "was his personal decision," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Shaimiev said, "it is rather a necessity" explained by current conditions. He emphasized that "there is no party which fully responds to the contemporary tasks in Russia, but Unified Russia is the one which responds the most." Shaimiev is also the co-chairman of Unified Russia's Supreme Council.

Tatar Parliamentary Speaker Expected To Boost Unified Russia's Ratings In Tatarstan
The 22 August issue of the "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily cited "strong rumors" among Tatarstan's political elite saying that Tatar State Council Chairman and Tatarstan-Yanga Gasyr movement leader Farid Mukhametshin plans to run in the December 2003 State Duma elections and then take a seat as a deputy chairman. The State Council's press service reportedly refused to comment on the speculations, while an unnamed source within the Tatar presidential staff told the daily that the 24 September conference of Unified Russia's branch in Tatarstan will replace its present leader, Kazan Energy Industry Institute rector Yurii Nazmeev with Mukhametshin. Mukhametshin, who is reportedly considered a strong draw for the party in Tatarstan, is also expected to head the list of Unified Russia's State Duma candidates for the republic.

Petrochemical Plant Opposes Tatenergo's Monopoly Status
Despite President Shaimiev's official ban on violating Tatenergo's monopoly on supplying electricity in Tatarstan, Tuben Kama's Nizhnekamskneftekhim petrochemical plant has recently decided to build its own power plant at a cost of $40 million, "Vostochnii ekspress" weekly wrote on 22 August. The power plant will reportedly supply one-third of electricity consumed by Nizhnekamskneftekhim's facilities, which will remain mostly dependent on Tatenergo. The company's management explained the decision as due to Tatenergo's high tariffs for industrial consumers. According to the weekly, in order to ensure low electricity tariffs for the public, Tatenergo compensates by beefing up its prices for industrial customers.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Mitrofanov Urges Creation Of Opposition Coalition Against Rakhimov
Russian State Duma deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov (ultra-right Liberal Democratic Party Of Russia) told a press conference in Moscow on 21 August that Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov "is confused and trying to bring his relations with the Kremlin in order, but defeats come one after the another," reported the same day. Mitrofanov, who previously announced his intention to run for the Bashkir presidency in December elections, said that before running for president he would learn the Bashkir and Tatar languages. He said, "it is impossible to struggle with Murtaza Gubaidullovich [Rakhimov] from within Bashkortostan. It is essential to create an external coalition and act in concord with the opposition within the republic." Mitrofanov pledged that after the elections he would announce a four-year transition period for "reestablishing democracy, holding free elections for parliament, and only after that, reform the government." During the press conference, Mitrofanov appeared wearing a traditional Bashkir costume with a fox fur hat and holding a Bashkir language textbook in his hands.

Ethnicities Minister Urges Ethnic, Religious Tolerance During Elections
Vladimir Zorin, the Russian minister in charge of ethnic policies, on 21 August urged political parties not to promote interethnic and religious hatred during this year's election campaigns, Interfax reported the same day. Zorin reminded voters that Russia being a multiethnic country was its "major wealth and the resource of its stable development in the 21st century." According to Zorin, the 25 August meeting of the Council of Federal and National Cultural Autonomies and other ethnic and religious organizations will adopt an appeal to the voters to prevent interethnic and interconfessional conflicts.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi