RUSSIAN-CHECHEN INFORMATION WAR – MOSCOW PRESS SURVEY FOR AUGUST, 16-31. ELECTIONS OF THE STATE DUMA DEPUTY OF CHECHEN REPUBLIC.

Prescheduled voting at the elections of the State Duma delegate of Chechen Republic started on August, 15 in Chechnya. Military personnel of internal forces of the Russian Interior Ministry who had never earlier lived in the territory of Chechnya took part in the voting. However, according to Russian laws they have right to vote where they serve, thus determining the results of a delegate.

As newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta (16.08.00) reports, federal authorities announced field commander Khattab had ordered to kill canditates to delegates. Simultaneously authorities forbade motor transport movement in the territory of the republic as of August, 18.

The newspaper Segodnya (16.08.00) devoted its article to the statement of biographies of the delegates, particulary emphasizing those symphatized by pro-Moscow head of Chechenia Akhmad Kadyrov and his formal assistant Beslan Gantamirov.

The newspaper Izvestiya (16.08.00) named its article about the election campaign in Chechnya rather ironically – „Election Committee of Internal Affairs” telling that Russian Interior Minister. Vladimir Rushaylo, had payed a special visit to Chechnya just before the elections.

The newspaper Vremya MN (17.08.00) quoted statement of Alexander Veshnyakov, Chairman of the Central Election Committee, that „guerillas are uncapable of undertaking any serious moves”.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta (17.08.00) reports about an explosion in the house of one of the candidates – Ibragim Huseynov, in its article „Election Terror Breaks out in Chechnya”. The newspaper Kommersant-Daily (17.08.00) makes forecast of the winners in elections – Amin Osmayev and Lecha Magomadov.

The newspaper Segodnya (18.08.00) is publishing an interview with the President of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, claiming that „it is impossible to hold elections in Chechnya at the moment as there is nothing close to an election campaign”.

The newspaper Kommersant-Daily (18.08.00) names the meeting of the head of pro-Moscow administration of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin as one of the phases of the holding of the elections. As the newspaper reports Kadyrov assured Russia’s President that the elections will be held „in strict compliance with Russia’s laws” and terrorists will not hinder as they have „neither forces nor people’s support”.

The newspaper Segodnya (19.08.00) tells of another murderous assault: an explosion occured in the house of a candidate to deputy Isa Ibragimov, however without victims nor demolishions. The newspaper Kommersant-Daily (19.08.00) suggests two versions of this attempt – this was done either by competitors or by guerillas. The author of the article supposes competitors involved in this as there are no other reasons.

The newspaper Izvestiya (21.08.00) tells of discrepancy in official information that was spread before the elections. According to intelligence of special services, Khattab received 500,000 USD for disrupting of the elections and he promised 40,000 USD to those who would foil elections at some exact polling station. The author of the article quotes an earlier statement of President’s assistant Sergey Yastrzhembsky who had been naming the same figures but in connection with other events. The author writes he has stable impression that intelligence of this kind are made up by people who are in urgent need of the named amount.

The newspaper Segodnya (21.08.00) named its article devoted to the elections „Unit of democracy per capita. Moscow wins elections in Chechnya”. The Central Election Committee officially stated there had been no infringements on the elections on September, 20; there had been no illegal agitation. 13 candidates were put to the vote. The author of the article says „whoever wins the desired mandate federal authorities will be the winner in final”.

A reporter of the newspaper Moskovsky komsomolets (21.08.00) who was present on the elections tells of its pecularities: voting boxes were pasteboard boxes pasted over with adhasive tape, many candidates live in Moscow or in other cities of Russia, militaries forbode playing of national music at polling stations claiming „they do not know the content of songs to be played – maybe there are words of call for overthrow of authorities or agitation for any of the candidates”. Another reporter – from the newspaper Moskovskiye novosti (22.08.00) was also observing the elections. He tells that inhabitants and reporters could not travel along the roads. But everything depends on what you can offer to soldiers – 100 roubles or a bottle of beer.

The newspaper Vremya MN (22.08.00) reports preliminary election results, naming Lecha Magomadov, Shamala Deniyev and Aslanbek Aslakhanov as the winners. Another author of the newspaper offers his article under the name „Chechnya comes back to Russia. Moscow finally succeeded in political victory in the Caucasus”.

The newspaper Izvestiya (22.08.00), on the contrary, names its article „Election Is Over, War Goes On”. It quotes the words of Viktor Kazantsev, representative of the President of Russia in Southern federal district, of which part is Chechnya: „During the elections people of Chechnya showed their will to live in Russia and in accordance with its laws”. However, the author tells that „Kazantsev’s optimism does not look so well-grounded. Of course, elections took place and Chechen militia was providing security at polling stations as well as for candidates to delegates. But with backup of better trained federal units”.

An author of the newspaper Kommersant-Daily (22.08.00) cites the words of Chechens who he met at a roadblock on the border of Chechnya and Ingushetia. „To hell with these elections, I need to get home. I thought I would have talked soldiers into letting me through, would have said I was going to vote. But it seems they do not care about the elections”. The title of the article is „Who is chosen in Moscow will win”.

The newspaper Segodnya (22.08.00) titles its article „Chechnya votes for Moskovites” and names the winner – Aslanbek Aslakhanov, before official announcement of the results.

The newspaper Vremya novostey (23.08.00) reports Aslakhanov reached 31% of votes, his main rival Shamala Deniev – 12%.

The newspaper Kommersant-Daily (23.08.00) publishes biography of the new delegate and tells he had been a delegate of Verchovny Sovet of the RSFSR (Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic) in 1990.

The newspaper Segodnya (23.08.00) presents a fragment from Aslakhanov’s election program: „thorough investigation of all cases of murders and humiliation of people and bringing butchers to trial; paying compensations for damages caused to all who suffered and amnesty to all who took part in warfare”.

The newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta (23.08.00) says „Aslakhanov is going to use the rostrum of the State Duma for sooner solution of Chechen problem. He is persuaded it is possible by political methods only”.

The newspaper Obschaya gazeta (24.08.00) specifies that „President of the Association of workers of law-enforcement agencies of Russia and retired militia general Aslakhanov did very much in his time for the strengthening of Dudayev’s regime”. As per his election as delegate, the newspaper says: „Election of Aslakhanov as delegate does not suit the Centre due to several reasons. He is hardly to be forgiven for his former friendship with Dudayev and ideas of sovereignty forgotten by him now. Conference of representatives of Chechen Diasporas summoned by Aslakhanov last winter irritated Moscow hard. A resolution including thesis about genocide of Chechen people was made up there”.

In interview to the newspaper Kommersant-Daily (26.08.00) Aslanbek Aslakhanov said: „I was not a part of plans of Rushaylo (Interior Minister of Russia) and Shoygu (Emergency Situations Minister of Russia)” explaining why militaries were not interested in his victory in the elections. He also stated that president Aslan Maschadov had already contacted him. Aslakhanov confirmed he stands for negotiations with Chechen president.

As the newspaper Izvestiya (29.08.00) reports, Aslakhanov’s official introduction as a delegate took place August, 28 and according to the newspaper Kommersant-Daily (30.08.00) on August, 29 Aslakhanov met President Putin and claimed to him of the need of the reduction of the number of military personnel on the territory of Chechnya. Aslakhanov also suggested revision of the manner of relief aid supply to the republic and establishement of control over assets being sent for the reconstruction of Chechnya.