Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 37

Among the few surprises to come from Chechnya’s election day on October 5, so far the most interesting is the revelation that the Russian troops who took part voted overwhelmingly against Akhmad Kadyrov. A respected Moscow journalist, recently returned from Grozny, told Chechnya Weekly on October 14 that some 90 percent of the Russian troops who cast ballots chose the option (not available in American elections) of voting “against all” of the candidates. The journalist said that the servicemen must have done this under the direction of their commanders, which provides further confirmation of the deep alienation between Kadyrov and the Russian military.

Another commentator, Oleg Khrabry, offered a different interpretation in an October 14 article for “Ekspert.” He reported that the head of Chechnya’s election commission, Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov, even admitted that “the percentage of those voting ‘against everyone’ in the presidential election…was significantly higher among troops stationed in the republic than among civilians.” In Khrabry’s view, the cause of this phenomenon was that the Russian troops, unlike Chechnya’s civilians, were free to vote as they wished: “They were the only voters whose choice was above suspicion, and therefore the outcome turned out to be a ‘pure result.’ Their options were either to vote for Kadyrov or to vote against everyone; they simply did not know anything about the other candidates. The Chechen civilians had no such choice.”