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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Chechnya sets date for election
Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov
Minutes after this photograph was taken, Akhmad Kadyrov was killed
A date has been set for elections in Chechnya to find a successor to assassinated president Akhmad Kadyrov.

Local officials said the poll in Russia's troubled southern republic would be held on 29 August.

Mr Kadyrov was killed when a bomb went off in a VIP seating area of Dynamo stadium in Grozny during a ceremony marking victory in World War II.

Rebel warlord Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for killing the Moscow-backed president and six others.

Chechen Prime Minister Sergei Abramov took over as temporary leader after the killing, while Mr Kadyrov's son Ramzan was made deputy head of the Chechen government.

Correspondents say that Mr Kadyrov's death left a power vacuum that threatened to undermine Moscow's plans to restore order in Chechnya.

Constitutional question

Some senior Chechen officials have been pushing for Ramzan to run for the presidency.

They have asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to overrule the local constitution, which says the 27-year-old is too young to stand.

Chechnya map
Human rights groups have expressed serious doubts about his suitability for the role, as his security force is accused of kidnap, torture and murder.

Ramzan himself has dismissed speculation that Chechnya would change its constitution to allow him to stand in the election.

Some rebel groups are planning to field their own candidates in the election, separatist sources told AFP news agency.

But a spokesman for rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov denied that his supporters were taking any part in them. He reiterated the rebel position that no elections since the start of the current war in 1999 are legitimate.

Election officials said the winner of the election must have at least 50% of the cast ballots.

The results will be declared valid if 30% of registered voters turn out.


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