RealNews

Rebels Vow to Fight on as Chechnya Heads for Poll

Neighbors of rebel Chechnya hope Sunday’s presidential election there will help end a decade of violence that has reverberated through the mountainous largely Muslim region of southern Russia. But separatist guerrillas have vowed to fight on against Russian forces in a conflict in which tens of thousands of people have died inside and outside the region in the last nine years alone. Many observers have dismissed the poll as pointless. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin sees the presidential contest as crucial for the Kremlin’s plan to anchor Chechnya in Russia and legitimize local autonomy, four years after launching a second military drive to crush separatists. The insurgents, including fugitive President Aslan Maskhadov, say the poll will make no difference to their campaign to push Russian troops out of their homeland. Full Story

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