As if the exclusion on technical grounds of Alu Alkhanov’s one serious rival in the August 29 election were not sufficient, the authorities of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration have now conducted a security raid on the home of another candidate. It would seem that the raid was intended only as a show of force to reinforce the general climate of intimidation, since nobody thinks that Movsur Khamidov has any real chance of winning this weekend. The fact that Khamidov is a veteran Federal Security Service (FSB) colonel only adds to the emotional effect: If someone with his background is not secure from arbitrary police harassment, what hope can there be for the ordinary citizen?
As reported by Vyacheslav Izmailov in an August 23 article for Novaya gazeta, a joint force of Chechen special police and federal Interior Ministry troops raided Khamidov’s Grozny home on the morning of August 17—precisely when the candidate was making a television appearance. The raiders briefly detained Khamidov’s younger brother Malsag and three Chechen policemen who were serving as security guards for the family. On the very same day, a similar raid was conducted on Khamidov’s campaign office.
The Novaya gazeta journalist concluded that “under these circumstances, honest elections for the presidency of Chechnya are impossible. Everything that will be reported to us on television on the 29th and 30th of August will merely be a summing up of the totals of the latest political farce—which will not bring Chechnya one centimeter closer to peace and reconciliation.”