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Russia: Candidates Collect Signatures For Chechen Poll

Grozny, 4 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Campaigning for next month's presidential election in Chechnya is underway, as candidates push to collect the 10,000 signatures required to run in the poll.

Aslan Maskhadov, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Chechen government, today met supporters in the western Chechen region of Achkoi-Martan. It was his first campaign stop since declaring his candidacy yesterday.

There are currently six candidates who have announced their intention to run in the January 27 election. Candidates must collect the necessary number of signatures 30 days before the election.

The chairman of the self-declared Chechen parliament, Yusup Soslambekov, said today he would begin collecting signatures in support of his bid for the presidency. Other candidates include current Chechen leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov, and field commanders Shamil Basayev and Vakha Arsanov.

Russia's Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin is scheduled to travel to Chechnya tomorrow for talks with Chechen leaders to discuss the withdrawal of Moscow's final two brigades from the republic. The pullout is due to be completed before Chechnya's presidential and parliamentary elections. Rybkin will also discuss measures to rebuild the republic's economy, including efforts to revamp Chechnya's oil industry. Regional leaders and top government officials will also attend tomorrow's meeting.