Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 224

Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, prime minister Aslan Maskhadov, and field commander Shamil Basaev have all officially declared their intention to run in Chechnya’s presidential election, scheduled for January 27. (ORT, December 1) All three stand for Chechnya’s full independence from Russia, but Yandarbiev is believed to have the support of rural residents while Maskhadov, who is favored by Moscow, has the support of a number of influential Chechen financial and industrial figures. Basaev, who has enjoyed huge popularity in Chechnya since he led the raid on the Russian town of Budennovsk in June 1995, is seen by some commentators as a stalking-horse who may run in order to take votes away from Maskhadov but stand down in favor of Yandarbiev toward the end of the campaign. So far, no candidate favoring union with Russia has come forward. Doku Zavgaev, the former Moscow-backed head of state, has confirmed that he will not stand. (Itar-Tass, November 27)

Other possible candidates include former Duma speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov and the president of the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus, Yusup Soslambekov. Neither is considered to have much hope of defeating Yandarbiev or Maskhadov, however. Chechen field commander Salman Raduev, who led the raid on the Dagestani town on Kizlyar in January of this year, has said he plans to run for the post of vice president. (Itar-Tass, November 28)

Meanwhile, a new Russian/Chechen conflict has appeared on the horizon. Moscow is insisting that some 350,000 former residents of Chechnya who fled to Russia to escape the fighting must take part in the voting. Many are ethnic Russians. The Chechen leadership wants only those