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Campaigning Ends Ahead Of Chechen Vote --> Campaign posters in Grozny (file photo) (RFE/RL) 25 November 2005 -- Today is the last day of campaigning in Chechnya before the restive republic's first parliamentary poll in nearly nine years.

Election officials say almost 600,000 people are registered for the 27 November vote, with 350 candidates running for 58 available seats in the Republican Council and People's Assembly.

Several Russian and international human rights groups have criticized the upcoming polls, calling them a mere pretense of a political process.

The last time Chechens voted for a parliament was in January 1997, when the republic was a de facto independent state run by an administration that had defeated Russian forces in a 1994-96 war.

There continue to be near daily armed clashes in Chechnya between separatists and Russian forces six years after Moscow sent troops to the republic in October 1999 to re-establish control.