Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 229

Nominations for presidential candidates in Chechnya closed at midnight on December 7. Each candidate now has until December 27 to submit a minimum of 10,000 signatures to the Central Election Commission. Chechen prime minister Aslan Maskhadov and First Deputy Premier Movladi Udugov have both officially confirmed their intention to run. (RTR, RIA-Novosti, December 7) Just hours before the deadline, incumbent Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev also registered. (ORT, December 8) Earlier, Shamil Basaev and presidential national security assistant Akhmed Zakaev submitted their documentation. There are 19 registered candidates in all. (RTR, December 8) So far, Maskhadov’s supporters have collected the most signatures on behalf of their candidate–50,000 instead of the required 10,000. (Interfax, December 6)

The election is turning into a two-horse race between Maskhadov and Yandarbiev. Although Basaev — the field commander who led the hostage-taking raid on Budennovsk in June 1985 — is popular with a significant part of the population, it is unlikely to be enough to propel him to victory. "Basaev is a wonderful field commander, our national hero, but he’s not a politician and can’t be our president," was the opinion frequently expressed to Monitor’s correspondent in Chechnya last week.

Moscow Would Prefer a Maskhadov Victory.