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October 8th 2003 · Prague Watchdog / Timur Aliyev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Rights defenders give conflicting accounts of election violations

Timur Aliyev, North Caucasus – Some observers and human rights activists believe that violations during the presidential election in Chechnya were negligible, and they said as much at a press conference at the Chechen Election Commission in Grozny on October 6.

“We visited several electoral districts and did not notice serious violations,” said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

“The ones we spotted were minor and could not have influenced the results of the election.”

When a correspondent from the “Al-Jazeera” agency asked about a poster of Akhmat Kadyrov posted on the wall in one district, even though an election law stipulated all such materials had to be removed on election day, the chairman of the Election Commission responded incongruously that “had the poster been lying on the ground it would have been in violation of the law, but on the wall ... there are lots of things.”

According to observers, there were other infringements than simply posters lying on the ground.

Human rights activist Antuan Arakelyan from the “Strategy” centre said that “I went to several election districts and perhaps 50-60% of people voted, but surely not 80%."

Sergey Shimovolos, program coordinator of the Moscow Helsinki Group added: “In the town of Shali, after the local election commission chairman came by delivering sealed boxes to the local administrative head, they went inside and locked the door. Wouldn‘t you agree that this is a violation?”

(H/E,T)

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