Marketplaces in Ingushetia are "closed for cleaning"

Timur Aliyev, North Caucasus - This weekend all marketplaces in Ingushetia will be officially closed "for cleaning," explained representatives of the "Fabrika" market. However, the Ingushetians, as well as Chechen refugees, are sure the closure is tied to the March 23 referendum on the draft of the Chechen constitution.

There are two schools of thought on why this was done. One is that Ingush authorities are afraid of possible terrorist acts in areas where many people gather. The other is that the referendum organizers want as many people as possible to go to the polls. "It's no secret that the core of the Chechen electorate attends marketplaces," noted Magomet Sambiyev, a market shopkeeper.

As for officials from the Ingush Interior Ministry, they had no comment to make on the market closures.

Two polling precincts have been made available for Chechen refugees in Ingushetia. One will be for all those living in the private sector; the other precinct will be for people living in tent camps in the Ordzhonikidzevskaya village and the "Bart" camp near Karabulak, said Eyla Vakhidov, a member of the Chechen Election Committee.

According to the Ingush Interior Ministry, a total of 19,000 Chechens are registered to vote in Ingushetia; and since about 8,000 have already submitted their applications, they too are eligible to vote.


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