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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 20, 1999

20 July 1999
Opposition Members Go On Hunger Strike...
Representatives of opposition parties and movements began a hunger strike in Kazan on 19 July to protest a draft electoral law that will be discussed on its third reading at a parliament session this week. Sixteen parties and movements, among them the nationalist opposition parties Ittifak and Omet, and Tatarstan's Communist party, are taking part in the action on the capital's Liberty Square near the Lenin monument. Among the protesters demands are that elections be run on a party-list system and that a ban be put on the election of administration heads as deputies in the State Council. The leader of Tatarstan's communists, Aleksandr Salii, said in an interview with Tatar Television that if the existing version of the draft law is adopted he will make an inquiry with the republic's president on contradictions between the election laws of Tatarstan and Russia.

...As Government Official Criticizes Action
The presidium of the political movement Tatarstan: Novyi Vek (Tatarstan: New Century), which is headed by Tatarstan State Council chairman Farid Mukhametshin, said on 19 July that it considers an electoral system based on the principle of the majority votes to be far more democratic than a system based on the party lists. Tatar Television reported that the presidium said it regretted the use by the leftist opposition parties of "inadmissible" forms of protest against the electoral law. Mukhametshin said in and interview with Tatar radio that he personally opposes elections based on party lists. He added that he believes it is undemocratic to deprive administration heads of the right to be elected to the State Council.

Shaimiev Comments On Russian Media
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said it is obvious that a blatant seizure of the mass media has taken place in Russia and that most media enterprises were biased towards various political leaders. Shaimiev made his comments in an interview with Interfax on 19 July. Speaking about the situation involving the official investigation of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's wife, Shaimiev said he didn't like the turn the battle between Luzhkov and federal authorities had taken. Shaimiev said he was amazed at how much TV coverage was given to the Pravoye Delo (Right Way) movement, specifically, to one of its leaders, former Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov.

Council On Local Self-Government Created In Tatarstan
Tatarstan President Shaimiev signed a decree creating the republican Council on Local Self-Government, Tatar Radio and Television reported on 19 July. State Council chairman Farid Mukhametshin was also appointed as the council's chairman. Tatar Radio cited Mukhametshin as saying that the organization of the Council on Self-Government and further amendments to legislation on local self-government will enable the republican body to undergo democratic reforms.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova