Ebrahim Raisi, the ultra- conservative candidate for Iranian presidential elections made headlines in Iran and stirred considerable reaction in social media with two meetings with President of Tatarstan and with the head of Iran’s Supreme Council of National Security.

Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan Meets Ebrahim Raisi in Iran

Raisi is a controversial candidate because he is known as one of the member judges in the so-called Death Committee that issued the orders for the mass execution of political prisoners in the late 1980s in Iran.

Many independent campaigns are now demanding accountability for these executions by their perpetrators.

On Saturday April 23, Raisi met with former head of Iran’s Supreme Council of National Security Saeed Jalili.

Jalili posted photos of the meeting on his Telegram social media page. The meeting was interpreted as a blow to the Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibof, another conservative candidate. Mr. Jalili ran unsuccessfully in the last election against the reformist candidate Hassan Rohani.

Jalili had expressed willingness to run in the current election but stepped aside in favor of Raisi. This meeting has given rise to speculations that in the event of his victory, Raisi would appoint Jalili as his vice president.

Meanwhile Raisi’s meeting on April 20 with Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan also became cause for widespread speculation. The Iranian social media has been interpreting this visit as the meeting between Raisi and an unofficial representative of Vladimir Putin.

Raisi met with Minnikhanov in his capacity as the Head of Imam Reza Shrine administration, a powerful religious and economic position that is responsible for the very wealthy shrine of Shiite’s 8th Imam in Iran.

Minnikhanov presented Raisi with a copy of the Quran and a leather rug while Raisi offered Putin’s representative a handwritten copy of the Baysunghur Quran.

Social media users commented widely on the meeting and argued that this is Russian trying to influence the Iranian election.

Iranian parliament has picked up on the meeting and announced that its National Security Commission will meet to consider the questions rising from this meeting.

Alireza Rahimi Tehran MP and a member of the National Security Commission said on Sunday April 23: “Meetings between foreign and Islamic Republic officials should follow special protocol and the foreign ministry is answerable in this regard to explain the reasons for this meeting.”

Of the numerous nominees for the presidential elections six candidates have been approved by the Guardian Council and the candidates will appear in a live televised debate on Friday.

Earlier the state media had announced that the debate would not be shown live but widespread outrage forced them to revert their decision and air the event live.