Russia pays Chechen victims compensation

Russia began paying compensation to victims of the Chechen war, the minister for Chechnya said, prompting criticism the Kremlin is attempting to buy votes ahead of October elections in the troubled province.

    Rebel attacks have plagued Russia and Chechnya, claiming hundreds of victims this year alone

    Stanislav Ilyasov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Chechens who had lost property would receive more than 300,000 roubles ($10,000) in compensation.

    The vote for a regional leader is the centre-piece in President Vladimir Putin's push for peace in the province, but observers question its credibility as the Kremlin has banned rival candidates to its preferred choice Akhmad Kadyrov.

    Kadyrov has ruled Chechnya on Moscow's behalf since 2000 and his administration is in charge of distributing compensatory payments.
       
    “We are doing all we can to rule out any corruption in this important affair, so that those who have lost property and livelihood receive money," Ilyasov was quoted by Interfax new agency as saying.

    Human rights
     
    Human rights groups have expressed concern that Russia is using payments to persuade them to vote for Kadyrov in the October 5 elections if they want more money to come their way.
       
    “The authorities claim this decision was taken long before the election was announced, but we see this as a pre-electoral trick,” Anna Neistat, director of US-based Human Rights Watch's Moscow office, told Reuters.
       
    Russia's war in Chechnya has cost the country up to ten thousand soldiers, and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Chechen civilians.

    "It seems Moscow has abandoned even the pretext of a democratic election, opting instead to allow their candidate to run virtually unopposed" 

    Glen Howard,

    director, American Committee for Peace in Chechnya

    The Kremlin has tried to claim that life is the province is returning to normal but violence continues apace.

    Some 111 police have died in rebel attacks this year, according to government figures, and more than 150 people have been killed in suicide bombings since April.

    Employment offer

    There were initially four credible candidates for the Chechen presidency, but two withdrew. Putin gave one a job, whilst the other was judged ineligable by a local court on a technicality.

    Moscow-based tycoon Malik Saidullayev hopes of entering the fray were dashed on Thursday when Moscow's supreme court upheld a ruling that his application was incorrect.

    “It seems Moscow has abandoned even the pretext of a democratic election, opting instead to allow their candidate to run virtually unopposed,” said Glen Howard, the director of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya pressure group.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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