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Chechnya: Presidential Candidate Drops Out Of Race

Moscow, 11 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Aslambek Aslakhanov, one of the three main contenders in presidential elections in Chechnya next month, today pulled out of the race. Aslakhanov, who serves as Chechnya's representative in the Russian State Duma, was quoted earlier as saying he will instead take a position as an aide to President Vladimir Putin in charge of affairs in the North Caucasus.

But ITAR-TASS quotes him today as saying he is pulling out of the race because "there is no chance of conducting a proper election campaign" in Chechnya due to continuing tensions.

The Kremlin is hoping the election will legitimize its administration in Chechnya. Critics say the vote, which comes amid continued fighting in the republic, cannot be free and fair.