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CHECHNYA LINKS LIBRARY

October 6th 2003 · Prague Watchdog / O.B. · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS

Kadyrov was the only candidate for Russian soldiers

Prague Watchdog's correspondent O.B., North Caucasus - About 30,000 Russian troops permanently stationed in Chechnya also took part in the Kremlin-organized Chechen presidential elections on Sunday, as Russian electoral law allows them to vote in constituencies in which their units are based.

Although federal election laws stipulate that "advertising for or against any of the presidential candidates is forbidden in the area of deployment of army units," it became clear that the Moscow-backed candidate, Akhmad Kadyrov, was the only one for whom Russian soldiers voted for in Chechnya.

"We didn't even know the names of the other candidates," said Ilya, a Russian private guarding one of the check-points on the Ingush-Chechen border. Although he and his fellow soldiers refused to give their names, they privately admitted that the order from their commanders was clear. "Everyone knew who the Kremlin’s candidate was,” said one of them with a bitter smile.

The Russian commanders strictly denied any pro-Kadyrov advertising before the Chechen elections. "The servicemen and their families will vote for the candidates whom they consider will be the best for the republic. Everyone will personally decide for whom to vote, and no recommendations were made," stated General Valery Baranov, the head of Russian forces in the Northern Caucasus, last Tuesday in an interview with AFP.

Baranov said the units voting in this election would be the 46th brigade of the Interior Ministry troops, the 42nd motorized division of the federal armed forces, and the border guards and military units based in various locations.

It is estimated that about 80,000 Russian troops have been stationed in Chechnya since Moscow launched its military campaign in the republic four years ago.

(E,T)

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