A former U.S national security adviser, who led an international observer group in war-torn Chechnya, has denounced Sunday's presidential election in Grozny of the Kremlin's hand-picked candidate Ahmad Kadyrov as a 'sham which further makes a mockery of Russia's pretence of being a civilized nation respecting human rights'
Retired U.S government official Paul B Henze has warned that the Soviet-era style elections, where 52 year-old Kadyrov won over 80% of the votes cast after front runners had mysteriously withdrawn or been ejected, will 'not change very little as the election is not regarded as legitimate by the majority of Chechens.'
The results were seen as a foregone conclusion after two candidates seemingly higher than Kadyrov in early opinion polls didn't appear on the ballot - one withdrawing to become an adviser to Putin and the other barred from running by the Chechen Supreme Court leaving six virtually unknown candidates to run against Kadyrov.
Mr. Kadyrov is central to Moscow's plan to bring at least the appearance of legitimate government, and to ensure that the ongoing war does not damage Russian President Vladimir Putin's own re-election bid next March.
The Kremlin's plan to bring at least the appearance of legitimate government and to oust separatist Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov who was elected in 1997 after a brutal two year war and is now branded a terrorist by Moscow, has been widely viewed as an attempt to ensure that the ongoing war does not damage President Vladimir Putin's own reelection bid next March.
The widely expected outcome was publicly praised by Putin as a sign of hope to end the bloody insurgency in the Caucasus born of nearly a decade of conflict, but the seemingly unpopular Kadyrov is now public enemy number one.
Grozny's residents returned to their battered houses in the capital of the rebellious republic on Monday most dismissive of their newly 'Moscow-appointed' president.
Chechen freedom fighters, branding the new president a traitor after his so-called collusion with the Kremlin since the launch of Moscow’s second offensive in Chechnya in October 1999, have also tried unsuccessfully to assassinate the former leading Muslim cleric who once called for a jihad against Russia.
Human rights groups and the media have joined Russian opposition leaders in condemning the Moscow-sponsored election, held amidst a high security presence, as a farce.
Pointing to the strong institutional bias in Kadyrov's favour, particularly his domination of the media through his supporters, the lack of genuine opposition and the Soviet-style turnouts of 99.998%, many analysts in Russia and across the world are sill downbeat about the future for the war-ravaged republic.
Towns and villages have been levelled by Russian bombardment, leaving tens of thousands dead, and reducing the Chechen people to dire poverty.
Many people survive with no water or electricity in with Amnesty International describing the situation as 'deplorable.'
Human rights groups and the Russian opposition politicians have joined the media in expressing pessimism for the future of the rebel republic.
There is now an almost unanimous verdict outside of the Kremlin of despondency -with the general consensus being that the controversial election of Kadyrov will only help President Putin and not the impoverished, demoralized Chechens.
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