On July 14, the election authorities of the pro-Moscow administration in Grozny formally closed the reception of registration documents from would-be candidates for president in the August 29 special election. According to the authorities, 13 candidates filed the necessary documents in proper form before last week’s deadline. The election commission now has until the end of this week to decide which of these filings meet all the legal requirements.
Strana.ru reported on July 15 that the 13 contenders are: Umar Abuev, general director of the Chechenneftekhimprom company; Sultan Aiskhanov, who teaches surgery at Grozny University; Alu Alkhanov, the pro-Moscow administration’s Interior Minister; Magomed Aidamirov, a businessman; Mukhumd Asakov, an employee of the pro-Moscow administration’s State Council; Abdulla Bugaev, head of a branch of a humanities academy; Adam Edilov, a Grozny lawyer; Sergo Khachukaev, a university instructor; Movsar Khamidov, an FSB officer assigned to Chechnya; Zura Magomadova, general director of the Dina company; Yaragi Mamodaev, who briefly served as prime minister in one of the separatist Dudaev governments in the early 1990s; Malik Saidullaev, the prominent businessman and leader in Moscow’s ethnic Chechen community; and Vakha Visaev, adviser to the president of the pro-Moscow administration. Four of the candidates—Alkhanov, Asakov, Saidullaev, and Visaev—chose to pay a monetary fee rather than to collect signatures on nominating petitions, which in today’s Chechnya can be physically dangerous to the signers.
Unless there is a radical change in the Kremlin’s strategy, Alkhanov is expected to be declared the landslide winner on Election Day. Even if the election were to be conducted freely and fairly, which few independent observers expect, his only serious rival would be the wealthy Saidullaev, who is well-known in Chechnya for his extensive charitable programs. He was forced out of last fall’s presidential race by a controversial court ruling.
In an interview with the English-language Moscow Times published on July 6, Saidullaev reiterated that if this summer’s election looks as if it is going to be another rigged one, he will drop out of the race rather than help give it a veneer of legitimacy. “Chechnya does not need a candidate from the Kremlin, but a candidate from the people,” he said. “Only a person elected by the people will be able to bring order to Chechnya.”
The Strana.ru article grumbled that not one of the contenders is an ethnic Russian—or for that matter a member of any other non-Chechen ethnic group.