Alu Alkhanov - a new president of Chechnya

Chechnya elected Alu Alkhanov president in the voting organized by the republic's pro-Moscow government after his predecessor Akhamad Kadyrov was assassinated in May. Alkhanov, backed by the Kremlin, won 72.2 percent of the vote, defeating six rivals, according to preliminary results based on first 25,000 votes counted, Chechnya's electoral commission said, state-owned Itar-Tass news agency reported. During Sunday's vote, 469,916 people casted votes, out of Chechnya's 590,000 registered voters, the commission said on its Web site. Alkhanov, 47, was Interior Minister in Chechnya's pro- Moscow government. Chechen Prime Minister Sergei Abramov said Alkhanov ``is clearly winning,'' Itar-Tass said. A man blew up himself outside a polling station in Chechnya's capital Grozny, when approached by the police, Radio Echo Moskvy reported, citing the Chechen electoral commission. Russian troops have been fighting Chechen rebels, seeking to establish a separate Islamic state, since 1994. Russian forces had withdrawn from the republic in 1996 and re-entered it in 1999 after a Chechen incursion into the neighboring republic of Dagestan and a series of apartment building bombings that killed about 300 people. The government blamed the bombings on Chechen rebels. The Chechen rebels' Web site,, called today's elections illegitimate and separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov the only legitimate president of Chechnya. Russia has about 80,000 soldiers in Chechnya fighting the rebel insurgency, informs Bloomberg. According to Scotsman, an explosion killed a man trying to take a suspicious package into a polling station in warring Chechnya’s capital yesterday, the only reported violence as Chechens walked through ruined streets to vote on a replacement for their assassinated pro-Kremlin leader. The man was spotted by police guarding the polling station, the head of Chechnya’s election commission said on NTV television. When guards asked to see the package the man began to run. "The package blew up. The man died," elections commission head Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov said. No other casualties were reported and the polling station continued to operate, said NTV. The election is part of the Kremlin’s strategy to try to undermine support for separatist rebels by inducing a sense of civil order in the ruined southern republic. A poll last October based on that strategy brought Akhmad Kadyrov to power, but Kadyrov was killed in a bomb blast in Grozny in May and fighting and crime have continued. Turnout was more than 79 per cent of the electorate, the ITAR-Tass news agency cited Mr Arsakhanov as saying after the polls closed. However, there was suspicion ahead of voting the results would be manipulated. Seven candidates were on the ballot, but six were seen as having little chance against apparent Kremlin favourite Major General Alu Alkhanov, the republic’s top police official. Chechens battered by five years of war, terrorism and misery voted Sunday for a president in an election that the Russian government portrayed as step toward stability, though critics cried fraud in a ballot that appeared certain to put a Kremlin-favorite in office. Violence shadowed the balloting. A man blew himself up near a polling station after trying to enter it carrying a package, officials said. Worries about terrorism were stoked by the crashes of two Russian airliners five days before the election; officials said traces of explosives were found in the wreckage, and there are suspicions two Chechen women conducted the suicide attacks, reports ABCNEWS.

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