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Russia: Refugees To Vote In Upcoming Chechen Elections

Moscow, 6 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russia's Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin says hundreds of thousands of people who fled the war in Chechnya will be able to vote in next month's presidential and parliamentary elections in the breakaway republic.

Rybkin told a news conference in Moscow today the 350,000 citizens of the Caucasus republic who fled to neighboring areas such as Dagestan and Ingushetia would be able to take part in the January 27 poll. The agreement was reached during Rybkin's talks with Chechen separatist leaders in Grozny yesterday.

Rybkin also said representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe would be invited to send observers to the election.

Meanwhile, in Chechnya, Vakha Arsanov, one of the six candidates for the post of president the self-proclaimed Chechen republic, said today he had collected the minimum 10,000 signatures required to run in the election. Supporters of Aslan Maskhadov, prime minister of the self-proclaimed republic, say he has already collected more than 50,000 signatures.

Itar-tass reports today Maskhadov has proposed that he and Arsanov run on a united ticket in the elections with Arsanov running as vice president.

Other candidates for president include current Chechen leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, first deputy prime minister Movladi Udugov, parliament chair Yusup Soslambekov, and field commander Shamil Basayev.