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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kadyrov Expects an Easy Win, Denies Rigging Vote

Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the pro-Kremlin Chechen administration, said Thursday he is confident he will win the Chechen presidential election in the first round on Oct. 5, and denied his rivals' allegations that he is putting a system in place to rig the vote.

"I want the elections to be the most democratic," he said at a news conference in Moscow. "I don't want any forgeries, I want fair elections. I want observers to control the elections.

"No one is going to vote for other candidates," he said.

Kadyrov faces nine challengers, foremost among them State Duma Deputy Aslanbek Aslakhanov and Moscow-based businessman Malik Saidullayev. To win in the first round, he would need to get more than 50 percent of the vote.

Kadyrov said once he is elected he will be "empowered by the people" to make significant changes and one thing he plans to do is reroute federal money for the restoration of Chechnya to the republic's government.

The money now goes "via 27 federal agencies," he said, and most of it ends up with a federal construction enterprise formerly headed by Anatoly Popov, the Chechen prime minister who is filling in for Kadyrov during the campaign.

Kadyrov ridiculed the other main candidates in the race, who have lived outside of Chechnya in recent years.

"There is a riddle here -- who has his family in London, business in Moscow, headquarters in Nazran and wants to become Chechen president?" he said. "Let these people move here, bring their families here, and we will see then."

Musa Muradov, former editor of Groznensky Rabochy, a popular independent newspaper in the Chechen capital, who was at the news conference, said he believes there is a chance the elections will be fair.

"The administrative resources that Kadyrov enjoys in Chechnya are exaggerated. Another issue is the resources of the Kremlin. These could make the difference in the republic," said Muradov, now a political observer writing for Kommersant.

Much will depend on whether Saidullayev and Aslakhanov remain in the race after the withdrawal of another main candidate, Khusein Dzhabrailov, earlier this week, he said.

"There is a big chance they will withdraw, and this is what Kadyrov is relying on. If they stay, there is unlikely to be only one round. If they go, Kadyrov may celebrate the victory."