RUSSIAN ELECTIONS: Chechens boycott vote

The polling station on Yalta Street in central Grozny was boarded up and locked yesterday. Outside lay the remnants of the ballot box, torn into pieces.

"There will not be any elections here," said Akhmud Adayev, the district's chief engineer. The day before, gunmen had made sure. According to witnesses, four men in civilian clothes drove up at midday, fired automatic rifles into the air and seized the box.

Polling stations were open yesterday to allow Chechens to vote in Russia's presidential election as well as local parliamentary elections organised by the pro-Moscow government installed in Grozny. But after 18 months of war against Russia, few Chechens turned out to vote, apparently anticipating trouble from separatist rebels who oppose the elections.

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