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Chechnya: Head Of Pro-Moscow Administration In Serious Condition

Moscow, 28 September 2003 (RFE/RL) - The acting head of Chechnya's pro-Moscow administration, Anatolii Popov, is in a serious condition today after suffering apparent acute food poisoning at a banquet. Popov was rushed to hospital early today after becoming ill during a meal in the eastern Chechen town of Gudermes.

The Chechen government's press service said the diagnosis is "poisoning by a substance of unknown origin." It said Popov is currently in one of Chechnya's hospitals, but will soon be taken to Moscow. The statement said he is in a serious condition.

Interfax reported earlier that the possibility of an assassination attempt has yet to be ruled out. The poisoning comes a week before a Kremlin-sponsored presidential election in the troubled republic.

Popov became the acting head of Chechnya's pro-Russian administration last month amid campaigning by administration chief Akhmad Kadyrov for the office of Chechen president.