The Moscow-installed administration in Grozny claimed yesterday that Doku Zavgayev had been elected "head" of Chechnya with 90 to 95 percent of the vote. The percentage of Zavgayev’s purported victory had climbed daily since December 14 in official reports, despite the evidence that most of the population did not participate in the voting. Russia’s Defense Ministry for its part announced that more than 40,000 Russian soldiers stationed in Chechnya had voted "almost unanimously" for Zavgayev, and a majority of them for the list of the government bloc "Russia is Our Home" in the election to the Duma. According to the same ministry, Chechnya’s military commissar Maj. General Ibrahim Suleimenov led in the race for the Duma seat from Chechnya as a single-mandate constituency. A Moscow district court is due to hear December 21 human rights campaigner Sergei Kovalev’s case for annulling the elections in Chechnya on the grounds of "mass violations of citizens’ electoral rights." On the eve of the elections, Russia’s Supreme Court had rejected Kovalev’s complaint against the Central Electoral Commission and his request to cancel the election in Chechnya on account of multiple violations of the electoral law in organizing that election. (10)
Fighting continued in Chechnya’s second-largest city Gudermes, seized by the resistance the preceding week and bombarded by Russian forces since. The Russian command admitted to losing an unspecified number of "killed and wounded" there yesterday in its effort to retake the city. Reports yesterday indicated the beginning of a three-pronged offensive by Russian ground forces with aviation support against Chechen detachments in Gudermes, the district center Urus Martan, and Shatoi–all held by Dzhokhar Dudayev’s forces. (11)
Just Say "No" to Crime.