Mintimer Shaimiev was re-elected president of the republic of Tatarstan in central Russia on Sunday. (Independent Television, Interfax, March 24) The result came as no surprise since Shaimiev, who enjoys considerable prestige in the republic, ran unopposed. The reason was that none of the opposition leaders had been able to muster the signatures necessary to qualify as a candidate. Shaimiev is seen as an ally of Russian president Boris Yeltsin. However, there is a cloud over his election since Russia’s federal law on elections outlaws single-candidate contests, whereas the Tatarstan law allows them. Tatarstan’s Communist party has already, therefore, tried to have the election declared null and void. The Shaimiev camp argues that, under the Russian federal treaty of 1992, Tatarstan’s electoral regulations take precedence over federal ones; the Communists argue that federal law should prevail. Shaimiev is well aware, therefore, that whether he will be able to enjoy his five years in office unchallenged will depend on who wins the Russian presidential election in June. If the candidate of the Russian Communist party wins, Shaimiev’s election could be subjected to central review and might be annulled. Tatarstan’s election provides an example of the informal alliance taking shape between Yeltsin and regional elites throughout Russia.
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