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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 26, 2000

26 December 2000
Presidential Race Begins
Tatarstan's Central Election Commission on 25 December set the schedule for the republic's presidential race. Territorial election commission are to be created in the regions 14-23 January and polling districts not later than 22 February. The territorial election commissions are to submit for checking lists of eligible voters 27 February to 4 March. And candidates are to register by 12 February for the 25 March poll.

Candidates Begin Applying For Registration
Two candidates have applied for official registration so far, RFE\RL Kazan bureau reported on 25 December: the chairman of the Russian national movement "Against crime and lawlessness", businessman Dmitry Berdnikov, and the general director of "Tatarstan" commercial company in Aznakay region Marsel Salyamov. Meanwhile, the Russian Communist Party branch in Tatarstan named the secretary of CP's republican committee Robert Sadikov as its candidate on 24 December. While Berdnikov is well-known in Tatarstan for participating and loosing numerous elections, Salyamov most recently attracted public notice when he announced that he was joining the correspondent of Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper in Kazan Lev Ovrutsky in a suit calling for the disolution of the republic's State Council.

Special Web Site To Cover Presidential Elections
Tatarstan's Central Election Commission opened a special web site for presidential election campaign of 2001, Tatarinform agency reported on 25 December. Information on the elections in TR is to be published at

Tatneft's Plans for 2001 Approved
The government and board of directors approved the Tatneft oil company's plans for 2001 at a board meeting on 25 December, Tatarinform reported.

Pensioners Unhappy With Living Conditions
The Tatarstan branch of the Russian Pensioners Party held a conference on 23 December in Kazan, with 372 delegates discussing the poor living conditions of the elderly in the republic. Speakers said that pensions must get larger pensions and called for abolishing the per-minute system of telephone billing. Some speakers indicated that they would boycott the upcoming presidential vote if conditions were not improved.

By Iskender Nurmi

Peoples Assembly Approves Republic Government's Policy
Not a single delegate the Congress of Bashkortostan's Peoples Assembly on 22 December suggested discussing any problems in BR, an RFE\RL correspondent reported from Ufa on 25 December. Instead, most praised the "peaceful coexistence and equality of peoples in Bashkortostan" and "wise policy of President Murtaza Rakhimov." In his sppech, Rakhimov himself emphasized that "only joint efforts of Bashkortostan's peoples would bring to better future." Bashkir State Assembly chairman Konstantin noted the importance of Bashkortostan's achievements in interethnic consent and peace, "which were vitally important in Russia today." Amir Yuldashbayev, who heads the analytic department of the republic president's staff, said that "living in a multiethnic society is a great joy for us... There are two peoples besides Russian people, which play a special role, occupy a special position - Bashkirs and Tatars. Our multiethnic society is a great reserve. Despite the times of political and economic embroilment, these two peoples managed to enforce their basis. The main goal for our future work is to further reenforce this." The congress passed a resolution stating that peoples living in BR "approved the governmental policy for preserving interethnic consent and mutual enrichment of different cultures."

Tatar Opposition Upset by Government's Activities in the Assembly
Moderate nationalist Tatar public organizations failed to obtain permission for a demonstraton near the building hosting the Congress of Bashkortostan's Peoples Assembly on 22 December, an RFE\RL correspondent reported. Ufa's Kirov district administration failed to give a reason for banning the picket, but the building itself was surrounded by militia. Tatar Public Center chairman in Bashkortostan Airat Giniyatullin told RFE\RL on 24 December that his organization had planned to protest the strong government control over the Assembly and foresaw possible persecution of picket's participants. "That's why," he said, "only elderly people, pensioners were going to join it." TPC plans to sue the Kirov district administration for the ban. Opposition Tatar public organizations condemned the involvement of local Tatar officials, saying that "this only showed the loyalty of these ethnic Tatar officials" to Rakhimov.

State Assembly Head Denounces Moscow's Drive for a Unity State
Konstantin Tolkachev, the speaker of Bashkortostan's State Assembly, said on republic television on 24 December that Moscow does not enjoy a monopoly on the right to produce legislation, adding that "Russia is not a true federative state yet, but the problem is that a unitary state being is being built there."

Constitution Day A Day Off
Because this year Bashkortostan's Constitution Day on 24 December coincided with Sunday, residents of the republic were given a day off on 25 December.

By Iskender Nurmi