The voting has finished and counting is underway in an election in Chechnya which is expected to tighten Russia’s control over the region. It has been battling separatists there for more than a decade. Pro-Moscow candidates are widely tipped to dominate the parliamentary poll. Chief among them is Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, himself a former rebel and the son of the previous assassinated president. The vote marks the culmination of a Moscow-sponsored peace process which will see Chechnya assume all the self-governing powers of other states within the Russian Federation.
That does not go far enough for the rebels who have denounced the vote. They want full independence for the largely muslim region in the Caucusus. Eight parties fielded candidates but human rights groups expressed doubts about the fairness of the election because of continuing violence. It has not been officially monitored by western observers.
The ballot was largely free of violence though two small bombs were found along the route used by President Alu Alkhanov when he went to vote. Chechnya’s already high troop levels were boosted for the occasion and extra security measures were ordered in neighbouring regions. Turnout was said to have been around 57 percent but official figures and results are not expected before Monday.