, president of the Republic of Tatarstan. Shaimiev ran Tatarstan in Soviet times and runs it still. Shaimiev has now acted to move the date of the next presidential election from March 2001, to December of this year. The assumption is that the 63-year-old Shaimiev will run for a third term and will win.

Federal law bans third terms, and Russia’s Central Election Commission chairman says it’s a violation of federal law to change the date of the election. President Shaimiev is likely to shrug off these legal challenges. When he was re-elected in 1996, he ran unopposed. The Russian constitution prohibits single-candidate elections, but the Tatarstan constitution does not, and under the 1994 power-sharing treaty that Shaimiev signed with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in Tatarstan’s elections house rules apply. The head of Tatarstan’s parliament called federal law antidemocratic: “What if the incumbent … gets the vote of 80 or 90 percent of the population?” he asked. “Is this not the will of the people?”