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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 28, 2000

28 September 2000
Izvestiya: Shaimiev's Reelection Leads Putin To Initiate Adoption of New Constitution
26 September

The Russian daily, "Izvestiya," published commentary on 26 September on the date of the presidential elections in Tatarstan, set for 24 December, 3 months before the expiration of Mintimir Shaimiev's current term. The article's main thesis is that next to Shaimiev's third term as president of Tatarstan, a key issue for Vladimir Putin is the adoption of a new constitution. The newspaper predicts that pre-term elections will permit Shaimiev to take up a third five-year term, since he will undoubtedly win the elections. And since Shaimiev is the informal leader of Russia's regional elite, his behavior serves as a signal for all provincial presidents and governors that they can still retain unrestricted authority under the "dictatorship of the law." Noting that there is nothing wrong in the prospect of Shaimiev's third term, the newspaper argues that he is the most authoritative regional leader who has proven his ability to manage one of the economically most developed territorial entities in Russia. He is actually respected by many regional heads who can't bring themselves to resist attacks by the [Moscow] Kremlin in the way Shaimiev does. Let Shaimiev manage Tatarstan or even Russia just as you like, concludes "Izvestiya" with some irony. Not Shaimiev but Vladimir Putin is the point, the daily continues, who promised dictatorship of law and validity of the Constitution on the whole Russian territory. The article reports that those in the Kremlin have been thinking for a long time about the adoption of a new constitution, although they persuade the country and the world that this is nothing of the kind. The daily expresses the opinion that the Russian President still has all the possibilities to succeed in adopting the constitution and eliminating regional liberties. But if reforms don't produce results, then regional elites will remind Putin of his first year's rule.

Russian Politicians Comment On Shaimiev's Third Term
25 September

The president of the Politika foundation, Vyacheslav Nikonov, said in an interview with IMA-press on 25 September that the Kremlin will hardly agree on a direct conflict with Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev and will allow him to stand for election for the third term. Nikonov argued that Tatarstan is a very important and specific region which, as it is known, hadn't even voted in a referendum when the Constitution was adopted. That's why, he said, the Kremlin currently stands before a complex dilemma � either to follow the principle of the prevalence of the federal legislation over local laws, and thereby create a conflict situation in the republic, or to their close eyes to Shaimiev's reelection and to possible discontent of the other territorial entities' leaders. Nikonov surmised that Shaimiev will be allowed as an exception to stand for election for the third time. The former Russian presidential candidate, Ella Pamfilova, told IMA-press on 25 September that nomination of Shaimiev's candidacy will result in double standards in Russian regional policy. "I'm very upset about such a possibility," she said, "although Shaimiev is a wonderful leader with great prestige." She added that it would difficult to find a better leader for Tatarstan. This contradiction, in her opinion, may result in nullifying reform of local legislation and bringing it into conformity with federal laws. This will definitely weaken federal authority and its influence on the territorial entities. A political researcher, Leonid Radzikhovsky, told IMA-press on 25 September that the Kremlin, on one hand, tries to equalize all regional leaders through introduction of power vertical and similarity of laws. On the other hand, in his opinion, unrest can begin as it did in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, and Tatarstan is more populated. If, according to republican legislation, Shaimiev has the right to stand for reelection but according to the federal law, he does not, then, most likely, Radzikhovsky predicted, Moscow will counteract his reelection. He said there are only two alternatives: not allow him to gain political office again or to change the federal law. He does not believe in the latter, since if corresponding qualification is abolished, we would have perpetual governors ruling by 30-40 years. Mintimer Shaimiev should be reelected for the third term, as he is not the worst leader and is rather popular in the republic, the deputy chairman of the Presidential Programs Fund, Vladimir Zharikhin, told IMA-press on 25 September. They, for some reason, don't draw special attention to the fact that most governors were initially appointed by the Russian President and only then were elected, so it is still unclear which term should be considered as the first. As to bringing regional legislation into correspondence with the federal, even in rather firm federations only civil legislation is unified within the framework of the whole state, but electoral law differs significantly. Only should turn to the US states or the German provinces.. Zharikhin said that in his opinion, the issue of electoral legislation shouldn't be regulated at the federal level.

30 Tatarstan's Parties Can Propose Candidacies For Presidency
27 September

Tatarstan's Justice Ministry passed to the Central Electoral Committee (CEC) a list of thirty parties and political public associations which have the right to propose nominees for participation in the 24 December presidential elections, the press center Vybory-2000 reported on 27 September. The list includes only those parties registered by 2000, that's why the republican branches of movements and associations like "Yedinstvo," "Partiya Rossiiskogo yedinstva i soglasiya," Rossiiskaya partiya budushchego" which were registered this year, are missing the list. Claimants have to collect over 50,000 voters' supporting signatures and present them to CEC by 18 November.

Ukrainian Delegation Visits Bashkortostan
26 September

Cooperation perspectives were discussed at a meeting of Bashkort manufacturers with a Ukrainian delegation of business representatives led by L'vov oblast deputy head, Taras Fedak, Bashinform reported on 26 September. Bashkortostan's deputy prime minister, Rafil Garifullin, told the meeting that trade turnover with Ukraine -- Bashkortostan's number one trade partner among CIS countries -- increased by 38 percent this year, compared to the same period last year and consisted of $120 million. He said the Bashkort government and L'vov oblast administration signed an agreement last year, and the potential for mutual cooperation is large. Bashkortostan delivers oil and oil products, chemical products, building materials to Ukraine and imports machine building production, foods, buses. Some 80 Bashkort firms have developed ties with Ukrainian partners, among them the republic's leading companies Bashneft, Ufakhimprom, Kaustik, Salavatnefteorgsintez.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova