Kadyrov wins Chechen poll landslide

Kremlin-backed candidate Ahmad Kadyrov is heading for an emphatic victory in an election that has been widely discredited.

    Ahmad Kadyrov is widely seen as a Kremlin stooge

    Pro-Russian administrator Kadyrov had secured more than 83% of the popular vote with 25% of the ballots counted, the electoral commission announced early on Monday, following Sunday's vote. 

    This makes it "impossible for the other candidates to overtake or even approach" Kadyrov, the commission's chief Abd al-Karim Arsakhanov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

    Kadyrov took an early lead with as much as 80% of the vote in the most populated areas such as Grozny and Gudermes, the region’s second-largest city.
    Despite widespread reports of nigh-on empty polling stations, election officials said turnout was more than 80%. Kadyrov faced no serious rivals after many other candidates were either disqualified from running or otherwise removed. 
    The election, which took place amid high security, came almost exactly four years after Russia poured as many as 80,000 troops into the Caucasus republic in what Moscow called an “anti-terror operation” to quash the country’s secessionist rebels. 

    Rebel amnesty proposed  

    The conflict has since turned into a brutal guerrilla war of attrition, claiming tens of thousands of civilian lives. Many more have been made refugees trying to flee the fighting.

    “We will rid our country of the occupiers and put an end to relations between Russia and the Chechen state, no matter how difficult the task”

    Aslan Maskhadov,
    rebel leader

    Russia has officially lost between 5000 and 12,000 soldiers, according to human rights groups. 
    Kadyrov, widely unpopular in his native republic according to opinion polls, said he would ask the Russian parliament to approve a new amnesty for rebels who laid down their weapons, although a previous amnesty that ended on 1 September was taken up by few rebels.

    According to the electoral commission 560,000 registered voters were given a choice of seven candidates in the election which Moscow pledged would be free and fair.

    Peace hope

    Kadyrov was appointed chief administrator by the Kremlin in 2000. But he has made little or no improvement to ordinary Chechen lives, daily attacks on pro-Russian officials and rampant kidnappings blamed on his armed militia as often as on the Chechen fighters.

    The newly elected president is mandated under a Chechen constitutional referendum, approved last March to negotiate with the Kremlin to determine the republic's prerogatives within the Russian Federation.
    Leader of the Chechen fighters, Aslan Maskhadov, vowed in an interview with French daily Le Monde, published on Friday, that “we will rid our country of the occupiers and put an end to relations between Russia and the Chechen state, no matter how difficult the task”.

    Elected in 1997 in an internationally recognised poll, Maskhadov was barred from running in the present ballot although he had said he had no intention of taking part in what he considered a sham.



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