In another unverifiable and implausible result of the elections in Chechnya, Russia’s military commissar for the republic, Maj. General Ibrahim Suleymenov, was proclaimed yesterday the winner of the Duma seat from Chechnya as a single-mandate constituency. Suleymenov’s candidacy was sponsored by the Defense Ministry which announced his victory one day before the electoral commission did. More than 40,000 Russian soldiers stationed in Chechnya were officially reported to have "overwhelmingly" voted for him, in addition to an as yet unspecified number of civilian voters. Russian forces continued shelling the republic’s second-largest city, Gudermes, with artillery and rockets and also landed some troops there by helicopter in an effort to retake the city from Chechen detachments. Russian headquarters continued withholding casualty reports, but officers told news agencies that Russian troops lost 10 killed in Gudermes yesterday. The Russian command appeared undecided whether to storm the city and destroy resistance detachments there, as spokesmen for Moscow headquarters suggested; or whether to avoid an all-out assault and allow Chechen fighters to slip out quietly, as the operational headquarters in Chechnya hinted it was considering. In a village near Gudermes, a crowd of some 1,000 civilians blocked the advance of a Russian troop convoy bound for the battle. Near Shatoi, a Chechen detachment captured 29 Russian soldiers with their armored vehicles and arms, and proposed to exchange them for Chechen prisoners while keeping the hardware. Armed clashes were reported from several other locations, with two Russian soldiers killed in Grozny alone yesterday. (10)
Disinformation on the Military Vote?