Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 158

Vladimir Zorin, the top official of the Administration of Federal Power in Chechnya, and the republic’s electoral commission yesterday upped Moscow nominee Doku Zavgayev’s margin of victory to "over 95 percent". They also claimed a voter turnout of 60 percent of an electorate of just under 300,000; however, the size of the electorate had previously been estimated at twice that, on the basis of the last census. The same officials claimed that "Russia is Our Home" had carried Chechnya with more than 50 percent of the votes cast, and that the Islamic fundamentalist movement Nur was the runner-up with 15 percent. Nur, whose links to Russian ultranationalist circles seem clearer than its Islamic credentials, was not reported to have done this well anywhere else in the Russian Federation. There is no verifying the results in Chechnya, as the OSCE observer group in Moscow suggested yesterday in telling a news conference "the situation was not conducive to a normal electoral process." OSCE’s mission there had criticized the decision to hold the elections and had left Chechnya for their duration, to the pique of Russian officials who said yesterday that the mission’s move "evoked perplexity." (11)

Fighting continued in Gudermes, from where the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry’s crack unit Vityaz (Knight) was withdrawn after losing 7 killed and 47 wounded. The Russian command has failed to update its casualty toll since December 16, and has blocked media access to Gudermes; the city was reported severely damaged by Russian artillery fire. According to Russian intelligence, Chechen detachments in the city were ordered to filter out by their headquarters and began doing so yesterday. Heavy Russian forces ringing Gudermes stood ready to pounce on those withdrawing. Other Russian armor and artillery forces moved on the Chechen-held district center Urus-Martan. (12)

Federation Council Approves 1996 Federal Budget