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26 August 2004 -- The Interior Ministry in Chechnya says police now have orders to "shoot to kill" anyone wearing a mask.
Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said security forces "have no reason to hide their faces if they act in accordance with the law."
Human-rights organizations report that most night raids -- responsible for many of Chechnya's notorious "disappearances" -- are carried out by armed men in masks.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said today it will not send observers to the 29 August presidential elections in Chechnya.
OSCE Spokesman Urdur Gunnasottir said the "minimum conditions" do not exist to allow an adequate observation of the ballot, adding that security was also a major concern.
The Kremlin-backed candidate, Alu Alkhanov, is widely considered certain to win the election, which has been widely criticized by human-rights organizations as a sham.
Meanwhile, the Russian Supreme Court's military branch today overturned the acquittal of four officers accused of murdering six civilians in Chechnya.