According to preliminary information, the former Interior Minister of Chechen republic Alu Alkhanov was elected the president of Chechen republic on August 29.
73.8% of Chechen voters supported him. Movsur Khamidov demonstrated the second result with 8.5% of votes.
Alu Alkhanov said to reporters that after his taking office Chechen Prime Minister Sergei Abramov and Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov will stay in their posts. “Sergei Abramov is a real professional, knowing Chechnya very well, and Ramzan Kadyrov will be in charge for the security issues”, said the new Chechen President. He is not going to make radical changes within the Cabinet.
Alu Alkhanov enjoys the support of the Kremlin, but he is still a dark horse in the Russian politics. He can hardly be compared with the charismatic former leaders of Chechnya. Alkhanov is one of the few Chechen politicians who has no negative notoriety. He has been involved neither in major scandals nor in contacts with the Chechen rebels.
Alkhanov can be called a hero of Chechnya. He was in opposition to Chechen leader Dudaev pursuing the policy of confrontation towards Russia. Under President Zavgaev, Alu Alkhanov did not quit his job in the police, and this requested much courage at that time. In 1996 Alkhanov demonstrated personal courage when the rebels took over Chechen capital Grozny, but Alkhanov’s military unit was able to produce effective resistance to them. Only after the federal forces abandoned the city, they forced through the rebels out of the besieged city. So, there is no need for Alkhanov to prove his courage. Many of Alkhanov’s subordinates respect him and consider him as a responsible man with a strong will. Alkhanov is also one of the few Chechen generals, and this means much for the Chechen people.
How the elections were conducted in Chechnya
The international observers say that there were no major wrongdoings during the presidential elections in Chechnya, Interfax reported. “We state that the elections of the Chechen president were organized quite well, and the voter’s activity was high”, stated the international observers from the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
According to RIA-Novosti, the observers said that the wrongdoings they had noticed, had been of technical nature and could produce no impact to the election outcome. The Executive Committee Deputy Head Dmitry Bulakhov said in his statement that there were alternative candidates at the elections, the competition was tough and the elections were legitimate. “We consider the election campaign as being in accordance with the law and, judging on our personal observations of the election process, we recognize the elections of the Chechen President legitimate”, say the international observers.
The observer from the League of Arabic States Said Magomed al-Barami said that the observers had come to the conclusion that the elections were conducted “calmly, democratically, well-organized”. And the head of the Political Council of Islamic Conference Organization Kharbik Imak said that the atmosphere on the election day in Chechnya was “wonderful”, and thanked the Chechen election committee for the conditions created for the voters.
Meanwhile, the Russian human rights activists question the democratic nature of the elections of Chechen president. “The elections of the president in Chechnya cannot be called fair”, said the Chairman of Moscow Helsinki human rights group Lyudmila Alekseeva in an Echo of Moscow interview on August 30. She said that businessman Malik Saidullaev had been driven out from the campaign by the authorities, and the election outcome had been predictable in advance. Ms. Alekseeva added that she has no negative emotions to the winner of the elections Alu Alkhanov.
Foreign newspapers devoted their front page articles to the Chechen elections. The Italian La Stampa wrote, “There are no doubts about the one who was elected by the voters – Alu Alkhanov, the Kremlin’s nominee. Nobody knows anything about the rest 6 presidential candidates – 4 state officials, one businessman and one professor. The propaganda machine, both in Chechen capital Grozny and in Moscow, was broadcasting only Alkhanov”.
One of the major French newspapers, Libйration published an article “The presidential elections in Chechnya were well-staged” claiming that the Kremlin’s candidate, Alu Alkhanov would win the elections.
The German weekly Welt Sonntag wrote that “the election committee did not allow several candidates to run for the president. 47-year-old Alu Alkhanov is a favourit of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is assisted by 28-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov, a son of the slain president, who has itas own army of 1,000 – 1,500 people”.
In an interview to the Tagblatt daily newspaper in Switzerland, political scientist Zaindi Choltaev says that “the way how this farce about elections was organized, does not contribute to Chechnya’s democratization and demonstrates the Kremlin’s pursuit of military approach to the issue of Chechnya. I expect the current latent war to be continued. However, Alu Alkhanov is smaller evil than the son of the assassinated Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, whom they initially wanted to make the president.