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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kidnappings Grow in Chechnya Before Vote

Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said Thursday that a growing number of people were being abducted in Chechnya, even as the republic prepares for parliamentary elections that the Kremlin calls a key step toward stabilizing the area.

"I'm not happy that people are still being abducted in the republic. This is a violation of human rights," Alkhanov said at a news conference in Moscow.

"Unfortunately, we registered an increase in the number of such crimes in October," he said, without providing figures.

Alkhanov did say, however, that 65 people remained missing after being abducted in Chechnya from January through September.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights urged Russian authorities to investigate the kidnapping and killing of Salman Arsanukayev and his son Khamzat. It said the two were taken from their homes in the village of Pobedinskoye by masked security forces on Oct. 18 and that their bodies, disfigured with knife wounds, were found outside the village the next morning. Another son, Supian, was killed by security forces in Grozny in an Oct. 2 raid, the group said. Authorities accused him of being a militant.

Alkhanov also said rebels had tried to stage some 70 attacks this year and succeeded in carrying out 28. In comparison, rebels carried out 130 attacks last year, he said.

Turning to the Nov. 27 parliamentary elections, the first in Chechnya in eight years, Alkhanov vowed to increase security across the republic by deploying 17,000 police officers during the vote.

A total of 106 candidates are running on party lists for the 40 seats in the People's Assembly, the lower chamber, while 90 independents are running in single-mandate districts. Half of the seats go to single-mandate districts, and the rest are split up among the winning parties.

A total of 161 candidates are running for the 18 seats in the upper chamber, the Republican Council.

Alkhanov acknowledged that many candidates were former rebels who had been granted amnesty in exchange for laying down their arms. "If people want to vote for them, let them vote," he said.

The vote is the latest Kremlin-orchestrated step to show that normalcy is returning to Chechnya. A first step was a presidential election held in 2003. The winner was assassinated in May 2004, and Alkhanov was elected president in August 2004.

The November elections are for the fourth parliament in Chechnya since the collapse of the Soviet Union. None of the previous three lasted full term. The last parliament, elected in 1997, fell apart in 1999 after the second military campaign began.