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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechnya's Parliamentary Runoff Poll Set for Feb. 15

Chechnya's Central Election Commission on Friday set the republic's runoff parliamentary elections for Feb. 15, saying only a handful of lawmakers made it to the new parliament in the first round.

The commission said it has managed to count ballots in parliamentary contests from 32 of Chechnya's 63 electoral districts so far, Itar-Tass reported.

Only five people passed the 50-percent vote threshold necessary for election in the first round, the commission said. The two leading vote-winners in other races will compete in the run-offs.

About 900 candidates were competing for 63 seats in parliament.

Three of those elected represented the Party of National Independence, which backed the new president, Aslan Maskhadov, a party official said Friday. Maskhadov won a landslide victory in the presidential election, which was also held Monday.

The election board said it plans to study reports of numerous violations in the parliamentary vote after receiving more than 200 complaints, appeals and accounts from observers, ITAR-Tass said.

Russian and Chechen observers who monitored the vote said poll results should be recognized as invalid in several constituencies.

Russian lawmaker Anatoly Shabad, one of the observers, said reports from 128 out of more than 300 polling stations revealed more votes cast than the number of registered voters, making for a 2 percent discrepancy. The difference cannot affect Maskhadov's victory, but it did count for those running for parliament, Itar-Tass quoted Shabad as saying.

Meanwhile, some of Maskhadov's rivals continued to attack him. Fresh charges came Friday from separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, his predecessor in the presidential post, who finished a weak third.

Speaking to supporters in the capital, Grozny, Yandarbiyev described Maskhadov's entourage as "having a lot of dollars, but in their hearts not ready to struggle for freedom of the Chechen people."

He also charged that Maskhadov's campaign was orchestrated by a colonel of the Russian Federal Security Service.

Yandarbiyev nonetheless ended his speech with praise for Maskhadov, the rebel chief of staff in the breakaway republic's 21-month war with Moscow.

"Aslan Maskhadov will not allow anybody to lead him astray from the path of building the sovereign Chechen state mapped by Dzhokhar Dudayev,'' the late separatist leader, said Yandarbiyev.

Yandarbiyev also announced the formation of his own political movement, Path of Dzhokhar, named after Dudayev.

Maskhadov, like other Chechen leaders, insists the republic already is an independent state following Dudayev's 1991 proclamation of sovereignty, but says he is willing to negotiate the terms of that independence with the Kremlin.