A group of Chechen public figures led by Ruslan Khasbulatov, former speaker of the Russian Federation’s parliament, has issued a written appeal to Vladimir Putin protesting the one-sided use of “administrative resources” to help the Kremlin’s favored candidate Alu Alkhanov. The joint statement charged that heads of local district administrations in Chechnya were being both pressured and bribed to ensure a landslide vote for Alkhanov.
“The heads of district administrations were invited to the offices of the Southern Federal District in Chechnya for one day where two officials from your administration had 10- to 15-minute conversations with each of them,” said the statement. Its signers went on to claim that the local administrative heads received an advance of $10,000 each in return for promising their help in producing an Alkhanov victory on Election Day—with another $30,000 in store after Alkhanov wins. The statement was quoted on the Caucasus Times website and in the August 17 edition of Moskovskie novosti.
Another “administrative resource,” as in previous election campaigns in Chechnya, has been state control of the news media. Sergei Borisov reported in an August 23 analysis for Transitions Online that television coverage has been heavily skewed toward Alkhanov, “sometimes in the same news pieces that report on Putin. As a result, TV viewers across Russia know next to nothing about the other candidates. The two main state-owned TV stations in Chechnya barely even mention their names.”