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Rally held in Russia's Tatarstan against Putin electoral reform plans
RIA Novosti

Kazan, 23 October: Some 50 representatives from right-liberal, nationalist and communist organizations have held a rally in Kazan to protest against electoral reforms. [Russian President Vladimir Putin's plans to abolish direct elections for heads of Russian regions]

A RIA correspondent reported that there were more journalists and policemen than protesters at a square near the Galiaskar Kamal Theatre.

Ayrat Sharipov, leader of the Tatarstan public union "Sozidaniye", which was the rally organizer, told RIA that the protesters regarded the reforms as a "threat to democracy".

At the rally, Sharipov demanded that Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaymiyev and deputies of the republic's State Council (parliament) hold a referendum to give the people of Tatarstan the chance to express their views on this issue. Sharipov was supported by the leaders of the "Soglasiye" movement, the Tatarstan public centre and representatives from the republic's committee of the Communist Party, who also attended the rally.

Tatarstan President Shaymiyev supported proposals for governors to be appointed by regional parliaments on 13 September. The republic's State Council will hold a session in Kazan on Monday, 25 October.