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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Putin sets date for Chechen poll
Ahmed Kadyrov
Kadyrov has said he will stand in the election
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a presidential election will be held in the war-torn republic of Chechnya on 5 October.

The announcement follows a referendum in March, in which Chechens voted in favour of a new constitution backed by Moscow and approved the idea of holding presidential and legislative elections.

Mr Putin has also signed a decree transferring control of security in Chechnya from the Russian secret service to the interior ministry.

This will mean that operations against Chechen separatist rebels will be handled by the police.

Correspondents say a gradual withdrawal of the armed forces from Chechnya is a key part of Moscow's attempts to show life returning to normal.

Ahmed Kadyrov, the current head of the pro-Moscow administration in Chechnya, has said he will run in the poll and is widely seen as favourite.

Constitution

Mr Putin said he hoped the elections would be fair and that "citizens can express their opinions freely and without pressure".

The announcement is part of a series of measures aimed at stabilising the region following March's controversial referendum.

Chechen residents and Russian troops stationed there overwhelmingly approved a new constitution cementing the republic's status as part of Russia.

However, the referendum was not monitored by Western observers and human rights groups have cast doubt on its legitimacy.

Chechen rebels opposed the referendum and are still actively resisting Russian forces, particularly in southern mountainous areas of the republic.

A recent series of bomb attacks have deeply worried Russian officials who insist that the situation in Chechnya is normalising.


SEE ALSO:
Unending Chechen nightmare
12 May 03  |  Europe
Q&A: The Chechen conflict
29 Oct 02  |  Europe
Profile: Chechnya
30 Apr 03  |  Country profiles


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