The Kremlin support is costly: Murtaza Rakhimov had to give up the controlling interests of two Bashkir enterprises
Incumbent President of Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov has become a sure winner at the recently held presidential election in the republic. He won 78 per cent of the votes, while his rival, businessman Sergey Veremeenko got just 16 per cent. The result is rather surprising because after the first round of the election Rakhimov's closest rivals Veremeenko and Safin together won more votes than the incumbent president.
However, when Sergey Veremeenko unexpectedly abandoned his pre-election campaign after the first round, the Kremlin voiced its support to Murtaza Rakhimov, which turned out to be decisive for the result of the voting.
On December 10, Murtaza Rakhimov had a long meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin. At the end of the meeting, both parties stated they discussed cooperation with the International Organization of the Islamic Conference. The president of Bashkortostan said in his turn that Vladimir Putin supported him and was not interested in replacement of the republic's leadership. He told that the Russian president would not like oligarchs to come to power in the republic.
Soon after the meeting, attitude of Russia's central mass media and the Presidential Administration to Murtaza Rakhimov immediately changed. He turned into the most progressive regional leader at the time when special services had reliable information about violations of the election law in the republic. Probably, also as a result of this change, Bashkir prosecutor general and first deputy prosecutor general lost their positions.
Another indicative meeting took place on December 12 when deputy chief of the Presidential Administration Vladislav Surkov and Presidential Envoy to the Volga federal district Sergey Kirienko came to Ufa. After an hour-long meeting with the president of the republic, Sergey Kirienko said he discussed prospects of further cooperation with Murtaza Rakhimov, which meant that victory of the incumbent president of the republic was already decided. At the same time, the presidential envoy said he was satisfied with the concessions made by Rakhimov.
The above mentioned meetings spread rumors saying that Murtaza Rakhimov obviously made several economic concessions as well to win support of the Kremlin. According to unofficial information, at one of the meetings the president of Bashkortostan signed documents to pass Bashkortostan's JSC Kaustik and JSC Kauchuk to Gazprom's trust management. The gas concern has been seeking management over the enterprises for a rather long period already, however Murtaza Rakhimov always managed to retain control over both.
An agreement on stepwise handover of the basic enterprises to Gazprom was signed in summer already. But analysts insisted that if re-election posed no problem for Murtaza Rakhimov, he would hardly observe the agreement concluded with Alexey Miller. What is more, Bashkir lawyers managed to turn the document into a declaration of intent rather than commitment. Now when the federal center has demonstrated its opportunities to the Bashkir regime, it is hardly likely that Murtaza Rakhimov, the re-elected president of the republic, will object to handover of the two Bashkir enterprises to the Russian gas monopolist.