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Russia: Observers Needed For Chechen Election

By Stephanie Baker Stephanie Baker

Moscow, 21 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Security Council chief Ivan Rybkin has called on the State Duma and the Federation Council to formally send observer delegations to next week's elections in Chechnya to ensure the vote is democratic and legitimate.

Rybkin's spokesman, Igor Ignatiev, said Rybkin has also called on regional leaders and the head of the Russian electoral commission to send observers to Monday's poll.

The Security Council's press service also said today that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has sent the Russian government a breakdown of the costs of its observer delegation, which totals $670,000.

Rybkin had requested the financial report in order to ensure that the OSCE's resources were used only to cover the technical costs of preparing the elections and protecting the observers. Some Russian opposition leaders had accused the OSCE of funding the election campaigns of specific candidates.

Tim Guildimann, head of the OSCE mission in Grozny, told the Interfax news agency today that 60 foreign observers will be monitoring the Chechen elections. The observers are expected to arrive in Moscow on Friday and then fly on to Grozny the next day.

Guildimann expressed concern about the ability of refugees to vote in the poll. He said the OSCE today plans to transport refugees living in the neighboring Russian republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia to vote in Chechnya.