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Kremlin's man in Chechnya trailing in presidential campaign
July 17, 2003

The head of the pro-Russian administration in Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, is trailing in the presidential election slated for the breakaway republic in October, according to an opinion poll released Thursday.

Kadyrov would finish fourth out of four candidates in the October 5 vote, showed the survey carried out in Chechnya between June 20 and 25 by the Public Opinion Foundation (POF).

The Chechen former speaker -- from 1991 to 1993 -- of Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, would top the poll with 25.7 percent of votes, ahead of Chechen businessman Malik Saidulayev with 23.3 percent.

Third place in the opinion poll went to Chechnya's deputy in the State Duma Aslambek Aslakhanov with 22.4 percent, leaving Kadyrov trailing with a mere 13.1 percent.

Of the 1,000 Chechens questioned in 74 different localities, 78.8 percent said they would take part in the presidential poll.

However 61.5 percent they would "in no circumstances" vote for Kadyrov.

Although Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, elected presiden7 but subsequently disavowed by the Kremlin, has been barred from standing in the election, 3.8 percent of Chechens said they would vote for him.

The Kremlin is presenting the presidential election, mandated by a constitutional referendum on March 23, as proof that it has won the military phase of its campaign against Chechen separatists, launched in October 1999.

Its optimism is regularly belied by rebel attacks which continue to take a heavy toll on Russian troops in the republic and their local supporters.

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