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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 3, 2003

3 November 2003
Shaimiev Promotes Closer Cooperation With Islamic Conference...
Speaking with Interfax on 1 November, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev called for closer interaction between Russia and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) "in order to revive the economic cooperation the USSR used to have with the organization's member countries." Shaimiev praised the recent move by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who after attending the OIC's meeting in Malaysia outlined the need to develop cooperation with its members. Shaimiev added that countries in the OIC "possess more than two-thirds of world's oil reserves and maintain sufficient influence over the world politics and economy."

Shaimiev added that by developing its ties with the OIC Russia could attract more foreign investment. He said that besides the economic advantages, cooperation could promote cultural tolerance between the OIC countries and Russia, which is home to some 20 million Muslims.

...Welcomes Appointment Of Head Of Russian Presidential Staff
Shaimiev told Interfax on 1 November that in his opinion, newly appointed Russian presidential administration head Dmitrii Medvedev "would resume developing constructive relations with [Russia's] territorial entities." Shaimiev said that Medvedev had kept to this style during his previous work as deputy head of staff and possessed enough professional qualities to listen to the person he is talking to and make a balanced decision.

Shaimiev also said that when Aleksandr Voloshin stepped down as chief of staff on 30 October, it had such strong repercussions because Voloshin had held the position since Boris Yeltsin was president, "while usually a new president forms a new staff." Shaimiev characterized Voloshin as "a skilled staffer, capable of following and assessing the country's political and economic processes." In his opinion, Voloshin's resignation was not linked to recent developments between the government and Russia's business tycoons, particularly the arrest of Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskii.

Tatarstan State Radio Cancels Rebroadcasts Of RFE/RL Programs
As of 3 November, Tatarstan State TV and Radio halted the rebroadcasts of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service programs, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The company unilaterally cancelled its contract with RFE/RL on 31 October, saying that Radio Russia is introducing a new programming timetable that has no air time for RFE/RL. Under the new schedule, the daily, six-hour broadcasts of Radio Tatarstan are cut by one hour, which was previously used for RFE/RL's programming.

Tatarstan State Radio began rebroadcasts of Radio Azatliq in August 1997 and with the help of its transmitters, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service could be heard not only in hundreds of thousands of homes in Tatarstan, but also in the Tatar communities of Bashkortostan, Udmurtia, Marii, Mordovia, and Chavashia republics, and Samara, Orenburg, Ulyanovsk, and Perm oblasts.

TIU Demands Old Catholic Temple Be Returned To The Believers
The moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TIU) issued a statement against the construction of a new Catholic church on the Iske Tatar Bistese historic site on 1 November, demanding that Kazan Technical University (KTU) should return to the Catholics their old church, currently used by KTU's aerodynamic-tube facility, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 1 November. KTU had previously considered the possibility of returning the building, but failed to obtain funding to move its unique research equipment.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Election Commission Registers Four More Presidential Candidates
The Bashkir Central Election Commission (CEC) registered on 31 October four candidates for the Bashkir presidency, RosBalt reported the same day. The approval of the candidacy of incumbent President Murtaza Rakhimov was unanimous, although it followed the consideration of an appeal by another candidate, Khesen Idiatullin, who protested that Rakhimov has violated electoral rules. Leader of the Bashkir opposition movement Rus and director of the Moscow-based Institute of Federalism and Civil Society Aleksandr Arinin was registered by five votes against two. The commission also voted unanimously to register Communist Party candidate Resul Shugurov, and Andrei Pykhachev, a Velikii Novgorod resident, who is currently unemployed, RosBalt reported.

Veremeenko Appeals Election Commission's Decision To Block His Candidacy...
Presidential candidate Sergei Veremeenko appealed on 30 October to the federal Central Election Commission (TsIK) to annul the Bashkir CEC's 27 October ruling to refuse to register him as a candidate, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 31 October. The Bashkir CEC has said that publications about Veremeenko in federal and republican media were considered campaign material and had appeared before the permitted term. The commission also concluded that those publications cost 5.9 million rubles ($197,000), in excess of the sum permitted by law. Meanwhile, a working group of the TsIK recommended on 31 October that the TsIK annul the CEC's decision, RosBalt reported the same day. The federal electoral body is scheduled to consider Veremeenko's appeal on 3 November.

... Is Involved In Road Accident
Presidential candidate Veremeenko was in a road accident on 31 October in Iglin Raion, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 November. The accident happened 40 kilometers from Ufa when a car from Veremeenko's motorcade collided with a truck that was coming in the opposite direction. Veremeenko's Mercedes was behind the car when the incident happened and nobody was injured in the accident. The head of Veremeenko's electoral staff Marat Mirgazemov told "Kommersant-Daily" that "one cannot exclude the political implications of the accident." Mirgazemov said that recently another member of Veremeenko's team, Reis Dewletkuzhin, who has been critical of purported corruption within the Bashkir Interior Ministry, was also involved in a road accident. The daily cited the Bashkir Interior Ministry's press service as saying that accidents do not bear any relation to politics.

Civic Group Appeals To Putin Over Alleged Electoral Violations
The Bashkir branch of the Russian Fund for Free Elections has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the "harsh violations of electoral legislation during preparations for the elections" of State Duma deputies and the Bashkir president, RosBalt reported on 1 November. The authors of the statement demanded that Putin "take measures to secure the legality and purity of elections in Bashkortostan." "Use of administrative levers of power by republican authorities has reached an unprecedented scale," the appeal read. The authors wrote that state officials have actively participated in campaigning for candidates backed by the republic's leadership, while other candidates have had their efforts blocked. Opposition candidates have had problems in renting premises for their staff, are prohibited from arranging meetings with the electorate, and have had their campaign materials destroyed, the appeal read. The council is made up of local representatives of the Communist Party, Yabloko, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, the Union of Rightist Forces, the Russian Party of Life, and the People's Party of the Russian Federation.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova