Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev became the acting President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) after the assassination of President Dzhoxar Dudaev on April 21, 1996. After the end of the First Russian – Chechen War, the elections for presidency and the Parliament of the ChRI were set for January 27, 1997. More than 20 nominations were received for the post of Head of State, but only four people were considered to be genuine candidates. These were the acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov, Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov, the head of Chechnya’s Customs Committee, the influential field commander Shamil Basayev and well known Chechen theather actor Akhmed Zakayev. Each of these candidates had the support of 10,000 signatures which had been submitted to the Republic’s Central Electoral Commission by December 23, 1996. One of the special features of this election campaign was the fact that it was impossible even for moderate politicians of a pro-Russian orientation to take part in them.
In January 1997, free democratic presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Chechnya under the aegis of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). The elections were conducted on the basis of the Chechen constitution, which was adopted in March 1992, according to which the Chechen Republic was an independent democratic state. Representatives of more than 20 countries, as well as the United Nations, the OSCE and even the Russian Federation, attended the elections as observers. Many of the foreign representatives said that they had never encountered such a high turn-out of voters in elections anywhere. None of the Russian or international authorities who observed the elections reported observing any irregularities.
Aslan Maskhadov won a convincing victory, gaining more than 59% of the vote. Shamil Basayev came second, with an impressive 23.5%. Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who had expected to free himself of the prefix “Acting” on becoming the Republic’s legitimate President, suffered a crushing defeat, with only 10% of the vote. In fact, none of the other participants in the election, including Movladi Udugov and Akhmed Zakayev, were able to take even 1% of the vote.
The elections were possibly among the most open and democratic in history. Their results were recognized both by the international observers and by Moscow. Even the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, congratulated Aslan Maskhadov on his victory in the elections.
The names of 33 Deputies of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Parliament who are still in their position :
Zhaloudi Saralyapov, Akhyad Idigov, Abubakar Magomadov, Selim Beshaev, Hamid Yangulbaev, Dokka Amagov, Balavdi Beloev, Suleyman Bustaev, Hussein Ishanov, Beslan Ishiev, Rizvan Islamov, Bekhan Dazhadaev, Ibragim Akhmatov, Nurdi Magomadov, Said-Akhmad Ediyev, Abdulla Yusupov, Ayndi Bisultanov, I. Abuzayidov, V. Adayev, R. Alungiriyev, M. Akhmadov, A. Akhmadov, M. Aymanthanov, A. Ayubov, U. Bakaniyev, U. Batayev, X. Batsuyev, R. Dadayev, S. Zubayrayev, I. Kukuyev, M. Tsumayev, N. Shakhbiyev, Z. Shovkhalov.
The names of shaheed deputies (killed by Russian occupation forces/Russian secret service (FSB) ) of ChRI Parliament:
Ruslan Alikhadzhiyev (The Chairman of ChRI Parlament), Ramzan Akhmarov (The Head of Media Committee), Vakhit Bamatgiriev (The Head of Politic Scienes and Shariat Committe), Nasruddi Mintaev (The Head of Social and Economic Development Committee), Dardail Khiryaev (The Head of Science, Culture, Sport and Communication with Youngs Committee), Aslanbek Abdulkhadzhiyev, Sultan Daudov, A. Islamov, Rizvan Lorsanov, Z. Sadulayeva, C.Gayrbekova (He dead a traffic accident).
The names of 14 ex-deputies of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Parlament (They were dismissied by ChRI Parlament because of their collaboration with Russian occupant forces):
Suleiman Abdurrahmanov, Hasan Ataev, Magomed Akhmedov, Gumki Gudaev, Waha Dakalov, Waha Dudaev, Turpal Kaimov, Shahid Kaliev, Rizwan Mumaev, Alexei (Abdurrahman) Suleymanov, Isa Temirov, Vagap Tutakov, Baudi Tsomaev, Apti Shahgiriev.
***The occupation and war is still going on in Chechnya so the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Parliament which was elected in 1997, will remain legitimate until new democratic elections are held in a free Chechnya.