Alu Alkhanov, Chechnya’s former interior minister, has been elected president of Chechnya with 74% of the vote. The chairman of the republican election commission, Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov, said that the turnout was around 80% and that there were no reports of serious violations over the course of Election Day. “Nor were there any complaints from the group of international observers,” Arsakhanov said. “They had the opportunity to visit practically all districts, any population center, and meet with candidates and with voters” (Newsru.com, August 30). Russia’s Central Election Commission reported on August 27 that the international observers included representatives of the Commonwealth of Independent States Executive Committee, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (Interfax, August 27). The Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) chose not to send observers to the election (Interfax, August 25).
Grozny resident and Kommersant correspondent Musa Muradov gave insight into how fair the voting really was, reporting that he was able to vote four times, each time at a different polling station. “I could, of course, [have voted] more times, but I had to send my material to the editorial office,” he wrote (Kommersant, August 30). Likewise, Timur Aliev of the Moscow Times quoted one of Alkhanov’s six rival candidates, Movsar Khamidov, as saying that a team of his observers found that not one voter had shown up at a polling station in the Mekensky Naursky district by 2:30 pm on Election Day, even though official turnout there was registered at 35%. Another of Khamidov’s campaign workers said ballots were already in the ballot boxes at Grozny Polling Station No. 406 when it opened at 8 am (Moscow Times, August 30).
“Even children playing in the ruins of their school in the village of Pionerskoe know who their new president will be,” Gazeta wrote. ” ‘Alu Alkhanov will be our president,’ 11-year-old Madina Busankaeva answers confidently. ‘We know that without our parents. We are the smartest ones and knew beforehand that Kadyrov would be also be our president’ ” (Gazeta, August 30). Madina, of course, was referring to Akhmad Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed president who was assassinated on May 9. Alkhanov’s presidential bid was backed by Ramzan Kadyrov, son of the murdered president, and by the Kremlin.
Following his victory, Alkhanov ruled out talks with Aslan Maskhadov, saying the separatist leader and “Wahhabism have no future in Chechnya.” The extremists “may kill and make explosions, but the will of the people has thrown them into the dustbin of history and Maskhadov has chosen this way himself,” Alkhanov declared. “The talk of the imaginary legitimacy of Maskhadov is misplaced” (Agence France-Presse, Itar-Tass, August 30). Alkhanov said on August 18 that he did not in principle rule out the possibility of negotiations with Maskhadov.