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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Observers Invited to Chechen Vote

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- Twelve international organizations have been invited to observe the upcoming presidential vote in Chechnya, Chechen election commission head Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov said Monday.

Arsakhanov said observers would have unlimited access in the region for the Oct. 5 election, Interfax reported.

"We have never had and will not have any topics or areas that will be closed to observers," Arsakhanov was quoted as saying.

In recent years, foreign observers and journalists have for the most part been able to visit Chechnya only on tightly restricted trips organized by the government. During a March referendum in which a Chechen constitution was approved, security concerns kept key observer organizations away.

Among the organizations invited, Arsakhanov named the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Arab League, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Foundation for Election Systems.

Human rights advocates have criticized the election, saying a fair vote cannot be held as long as war continues to rage. Many accuse the Kremlin of organizing the election simply to legitimize the current Moscow-appointed acting government led by Akhmad Kadyrov.

A total of 14 candidates, including Kadyrov, have declared their intention to run. They must each submit 10,000 signatures by Wednesday evening to get their name on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Chechen Prosecutor Alu Alkhanov said 380 people had gone missing in the region since the beginning of the year, Itar-Tass reported.

Eighty-four missing persons were found, he said.

Rights advocates blame the large number of disappearances in Chechnya on federal troops, who they say kill civilians or hold people for ransom.

Also Monday, unidentified gunmen killed a woman and her teenage son on a street in Grozny, said an official in the Interior Ministry headquarters for southern Russia. News reports said the woman sold jewelry at a Grozny market, and the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was likely the victim of extortionists.

Ten troops and policemen were killed in rebel attacks and land mine explosions in Chechnya over the past 24 hours, an official in the civilian administration said on condition of anonymity.

Another 14 men, including an Interior Ministry colonel, were wounded, the official said.