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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 18, 2003

18 November 2003
New Century Party Confirms Support For Unified Russia
The congress of Tatarstan's pro-governmental New Century party, led by State Council chairman Farid Mukhametshin, voted to support the Unified Russia party during the upcoming State Duma elections in December, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 17 November. According to the resolution adopted at the congress, party activists will campaign on behalf of Unified Russia. Most of New Century's key figures are already members of Unified Russia: Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev is on Unified Russia's list of candidates for the State Duma. Mukhametshin told reporters during the congress that by joining forces with Unified Russia, New Century will have more opportunity for representation in the Russian parliament defending Tatarstan's interests more efficiently.

Yabloko Candidate Asks Shaimiev To Step Aside From Duma Campaign
Irek Mortazin, a candidate for the Russian State Duma, and his supporters on 17 November protested in the streets of Kazan urging Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev to return from his electoral leave, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Mortazin is a former head of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK) branch in Tatarstan and a former spokesman for the Tatar president. As Shaimiev is seeking election for the Russian State Duma on the Unified Russia party list, he took leave from his presidential duties one month before the 7 December vote. Murtazin's supporters are urging Shaimiev to cancel his electoral plans and return to his work as president. This would, in their opinion, cause the number of Unified Russia supporters in Tatarstan to increase. Murtazin himself represents the Yabloko party. Meanwhile, according to the Tatar press, Shaimiev was invited to run on the Unified Russia party list only to gain more support for the party and will not leave his presidential post for a State Duma seat.

Tatar Representative Cites Human Rights Violations In Moscow, Russia
Speaking at a scientific conference sponsored by the Russian Human Rights Commission, Timur Soleimenov, spokesman for the Tatar national and cultural autonomy in Moscow, has said the number of cases of extremism and interethnic and interconfessional discord are growing, especially in the Russian capital, Intertat reported on 17 November. Soleimenov said that about 30 percent of non-Russian nationals have been beaten by skinheads in Moscow. Soleimenov also referred to the legislative work of the Russian State Duma, which, according to him, has adopted laws violating the provisions of international human rights treaties ratified by Russia in the late 1990s.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

TsIK Registers Veremeenko As Bashkir Presidential Candidate
The Russian Central Election Commission (TsIK) on 17 November unanimously approved Mezhprombank board member Sergei Veremeenko as a candidate for the Bashkir presidential election and urged the Bashkir Central Election Commission (USK) to issue Veremeenko a candidate certificate within three days, RosBalt reported the same day. The USK has twice refused to register Veremeenko as a presidential candidate, accusing him of distributing material in the mass media without paying for them from his electoral fund (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 October and 12 November 2003). The TsIK on 3 November annulled the decision by the Bashkir USK and urged it to reconsider Veremeenko's registration. At its 17 November session, the TsIK noted that the USK did not take measures to halt the alleged illegal campaigning and to find the persons involved in it and laid responsibility for issuing and spreading printed material on Veremeenko without real proof. The TsIK also appealed to the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office to investigate the alleged violations of the election law in the presidential race.

Court Hears Anti-Rakhimov Complaint
The Bashkir Supreme Court on 14 November began hearing a complaint by presidential candidates Relif Safin and Khesen Idiyetullin against the registration of incumbent President Murtaza Rakhimov as a presidential candidate (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 November 2003), RosBalt reported the same day. The plaintiffs demanded that Rakhimov's registration be annulled, since he illegally uses administrative levers of power, violates campaign rules, and uses state officials in his campaign. The court questioned three witnesses, including the director and an employee of the Bashkir State Philharmonic Society and an employee from the Culture and Nationality Policy Ministry.

Aushev States Support To Rakhimov
Visiting Ufa on 14 November, the chairman of the political council of the Russian Party of Peace and former president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, expressed his support for President Rakhimov on the eve of the Bashkir presidential election, Bashinform and RosBalt reported the same day. Aushev said Rakhimov should be re-elected, and the republic might lose economic stability if people not ready for managing the region come to power. He also said Bashkortostan is "a tidbit" for numerous industrial groups that seek to "pilfer" it.

Veremeenko On Bashkortostan's Ethnic Issues
In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 15 November, Sergei Veremeenko expressed doubt on results of the 2002 national census. According to Veremeenko, the Bashkir Cabinet of Ministers is 19 percent Russians, 14 percent Tatars, and 67 percent Bashkirs; in raion and city administrations, it is 15 percent Russians, 19 percent Tatars, and 58 percent Bashkirs. Veremeenko cited examples of the needs of Tatars not being satisfied in the republic, including the fact that radio and television almost do not broadcast in Tatar, teachers for Tatar kindergartens are not trained, and the number of books, newspapers, and magazines printed in Tatar is insufficient. Veremeenko said it is necessary to organize distribution in Bashkortostan of periodicals issued in Tatarstan and transmission of the Tatarstan-Yanga Gasyr satellite-television channel and Tatarstan's Bulgar FM radio.

Veremeenko also said making Tatar a state language would not create technical problems but would require the constitution and laws to be amended, and current deputies of the State Assembly will not agree to do this. As a compromise, special status might be given to Tatar in raions predominantly populated by Tatars, Veremeenko suggested.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova