German Press Review: Troubles in Chechnya | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.10.2003
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German Press Review: Troubles in Chechnya

The editorial pages of Germany’s newspapers on Tuesday focused on the presidential vote in the troubled Russian republic of Chechnya on Sunday.

Bonn’s General Anzeiger opined that no one can possibly believe that the presidential election in Chechnya on Sunday actually followed democratic rules. After Russian President Valdimir Putin outmaneuvered all other candidates before the election, the people could only vote for Moscow’s man Akhmed Kadyrov. But the high voter turnout is more than a little suspicious the paper said. However, Kadyrov did clearly get the most votes and there must be a reason for this. It might be the vague hope for peace and reconstruction, or maybe for an autonomous state, perhaps even a future outside the Russian Federation.

Along similar lines, the Frankfurter Rundschau said Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, must be pleased with the election results. Statistics show a sensationally high turn-out, and international observers can’t find anything concretely suspicious. But, according to the paper, it looks too good to be true – it should have been called the Moscow election. Tens of thousands of refugees were trucked back into the country and strictly observed to see if they put their ‘X’ in the right box. The Financial Times Deutschland took a slightly different approach to the results of Chechnya’s elections. It wrote that Putin has a strong grip on his country. All the presidential candidates in Chechnya were put under pressure until they supported Kadyrov. All of this has little to do with democracy and shouldn’t be taken as a model of success, said the paper, adding a debate over Russia’s democracy is needed more than ever.