AN UPDATE ON THE ELECTION IN BASHKORTOSTAN

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AN UPDATE ON THE ELECTION IN BASHKORTOSTAN

Trud, March 18, 2003, EV

The election in Bashkortostan is appraised as having taken place. Almost 60% of voters turned up at their respective polling stations. Voter activity at this level is something traditional for Bashkortostan – 58.7% voters turned up at their polling stations to elect the first State Assembly and 61.34% the second.

“Generally speaking, no incidents were reported,” said Yevgeny Kolyushin of the federal Central Election Commission.

All the same, smearing materials on some candidates were published. The tension was so high that one of the candidates actually died.

United Russia scored an unprecedented victory in Bashkortostan. The State Assembly comprises 120 deputies and over 90 seats were won by United Russia.

A CONFERENCE ON THE MEDIA

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 18, 2003, EV

“Media on the Eve of the Election: Good Will and New Law”, this two-day conference opened in Moscow, yesterday. The National Association of Broadcasters and Central Election Commission organized the conference. Organizers must have intended to persuade the skeptics that the media was to impose certain restrictions on itself of its own volition.

Central Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov addressed those present that this informational asceticism would do the media good. “The latest legislative innovations are supposed to protect journalists from bureaucratic tyranny,” he said. “These amendments are not a blow at the freedom of speech as some antagonists would have us believe. They are a blow at the freedom of lies, black cash, dirty technologies, and administrative excesses.” Veshnyakov explained that newspapers and TV channels would be closed only after the third misdemeanor and only on the court decision.

Journalists had some questions concerning the new law. Aleksei Venediktov, Echo of Moscow Chief Editor, formulated them. Unfortunately, Sergei Bolshakov, member of the Central Election Commission and author of the amendments, did not say anything coherent to clarify the matter.

The Central Election Commission hopes that the amendments will be adopted in the first reading on March 19.

DAGESTIANI VOTERS BRIBED

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 18, 2003, EV

Deputies of the People’s Assembly of Dagestan were elected last Sunday. There are 121 districts in the republic. Election has taken place in 97 districts, the second round is scheduled to take place in 23 more, and the election in Kizlyar is to be repeated. Several candidates withdrew from the race at the last moment, leaving only one. An election without alternatives is not permitted.

Unlike the previous campaign when three police officers were killed and two candidates for deputy wounded, this time everything was restricted to shooting in the air in Makhachkala and theft of a thousand bulletins in Babayurt. Three criminal proceedings were instigated, thirteen instigators taken into custody for attempts to wreck elections in three districts.

Observers call the election a prelude to the presidential race three years from now. The race promises to be unpredictable indeed. Magomedali Magomedov (a Dargin by origin) was elected three times in a row, and neither he nor another Dargin may be elected now. In other words, Dagestan is in for a republican-wide ethnic shuffle all through the power hierarchy. There is, however, an alternative – amendment of the existing unique system of management in the republic. Everything is up to the People’s Assembly elected last Sunday.

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