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Pro-Kremlin Party Leads In Chechen Elections

Campaign posters for Chechnya's 27 November parliamentary elections (RFE/RL) 28 November 2005 -- Election officials in Russia's war-torn republic of Chechnya are set today to release complete preliminary results from yesterday's legislative elections.

Partial results already show the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party with a significant lead. Ismail Baikhanov, the head of the Chechen election commission, spoke to reporters earlier today:

"The 5 percent barrier was passed by 3 [political] parties -- these are Unified Russia party for which voted 60 percent [of the voters], next is the Communist party which has 12 percent, and third is Union of Right Forces with 10 percent," Baikhanov said when announcing preliminary results.

Voter turnout in the preliminary count was said to be 66 percent, well above the 25-percent turnout needed to validate the polls for the 58 seats in the two-chamber parliament.

Chechen separatist rebels took no part in the election, calling it a charade, and there were few international observers.

Andreas Gross, head of an eight-member Council of Europe mission, spoke of a climate of fear in relation to the elections, telling reporters that real power in Chechnya is based on a legitimacy that is not democratic.

Russian and international human rights groups had criticized the polls, calling them a pretense of a political process in the troubled republic.

Chechen President Alu Alkhanov says the first session of the 58-seat, two-chamber parliament will be held from December 10-15.


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