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Ironduke
28 Sep 03,, 20:23
Acting Chechen president poisoned

(CNN) -- Anatoly Popov, the acting president of Chechnya, is in hospital in serious condition, apparently the victim of poisoning, the Interfax news agency said.

Popov's doctors said Sunday they were unsure what the poisoning agent may have been, the agency reported.

Popov was appointed prime minister earlier this year by Akhmad Kadyrov, the breakaway republic's Russian-appointed acting president. Popov stepped into the role of acting president in the run-up to next week's planned presidential elections.

Kadyrov is favorite to win in the October 5 vote -- his main rivals in the contest either withdrew or were disqualified, Reuters reported. Popov is not taking part.

Russian forces have been battling Chechen rebels -- largely Islamic separatists seeking to create a new Islamic nation -- for most of the last decade.

Russian troops invaded Chechnya in 1999 after a string of attacks blamed on the separatists who, three years earlier, had fought Moscow to a standstill. Since then, guerrilla attacks on Russian forces have persisted.

In the last several months, a series of suicide attacks attributed to Chechen separatists have killed dozens.

The rebels have said they do not accept the legitimacy of next week's election.

In Washington, President Bush finished a meeting Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin by linking the international war on terrorism to the violence in Chechnya.

"Both of our nations have suffered at the hands of terrorists, and both of our governments are taking actions to stop them," Bush said. "No cause justifies terror. Terrorists must be opposed wherever they spread chaos and destruction, including Chechnya."

Bush said a "lasting solution" to the conflict in Chechnya "will require an end to terror, respect for human rights and a political settlement that leads to free and fair elections."

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/09/28/chechnya.newpoison/index.html