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Kadyrov Accused of Intimidation

Published: September 9, 2003 (Issue # 900)


MOSCOW - A candidate in Chechnya's presidential election accused the Moscow-appointed Chechen administration of acting president Akhmad Kadyrov of using intimidation and violence against others on the ballot.

"There are certain bureaucrats who are putting pressure on some candidates to leave the pre-election process, and thereby clear the path for acting president Akhmad Kadyrov," Malik Saidullayev said at a news conference Monday.

The millionaire businessman said the Chechen police force, headed by Kadyrov's son Ramzan, had committed "mass violations," using intimidation, force and weapons against representatives of his father's opponents in the election race.

Saidullayev said one of his own assistants was kidnapped and tortured for four days by Ramzan Kadyrov's men and said he too had been "ambushed" by an armed crowd of Kadyrov supporters when he was recently in Chechnya.

The Kremlin has not publicly backed any of the 10 candidates in the race.

Independent polls have shown Saidullayev and Aslanbek Aslakhanov, who represents Chechnya in the State Duma, leading the race, their popularity far surpassing that of Kadyrov.

One candidate has already pulled out of the Oct. 5 elections and Aslakhanov recently threatened to withdraw his candidacy if the authorities "fail to create conditions for holding democratic elections."

Saidullayev, however, said he did not intend to withdraw his candidacy, saying it would be a "betrayal" of his supporters.

"Even if these elections are only 30 percent fair, I think I will still beat Kadyrov," he said, warning that if any more candidates withdraw, the elections would be compromised.

The chairperson of Chechnya's election commission, however, denied reports that the election race was fraught by unrest.

"Whatever Chechnya specialists say about passions running high, the exchange of insults and negative reporting in the election race, is untrue," Abdulkerim Arsakhanov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

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