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    Former Mayor of Grozny to lead Rodina ballot during upcoming parliamentary elections in Chechnya

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    MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti) - Former Mayor of Grozny Bislan Gantamirov will lead Rodina (Motherland) ballot during the fall 2005 parliamentary elections in Chechnya, announced Rodina leader Dmitry Rogozin at the 5th Congress of the party on Saturday.

    Gantamirov delivered a report on the national policy of the party at the congress.

    "My speech today at the congress is an answer to our enemies who accuse Rodina of chauvinism and nationalism," he said.

    According to Gantamirov, "Rodina will pursue the strengthening of the unity of all peoples in Russia. "Russia could be considered a great power only when the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their nationality, are well protected, when every citizen feels comfortable living in any region," Gantamirov stressed.

    The former Mayor of Grozny said, "The Chechen people has always considered Russia its Motherland." "In the near future, the Chechen Republic will become a solid bulwark of Russia on its southern borders."

    Bislan Gantamirov (born in 1963) is a lawyer. During the Soviet times he worked in law enforcement bodies of Checheno-Ingushetia. In 1991, he supported the presidency of Dzhokhar Dudayev. In the beginning of 1992, he became the Mayor of Grozny.

    In April 1993, relations between Dudayev and Gantamirov deteriorated.

    In August 1994, Gantamirov headed a group of armed opposition forces numbering 700 people. He fought on the side of the federal forces. In spring 1995, after the arrival of federal forces in Grozny, he became the Mayor of the city again. Later, he was appointed Vice-Premier in the Doku Zavgayev's government.

    In 1996, he was arrested in Moscow on charges of embezzlement of large funds allocated for the reconstruction of Chechnya. In 1996, he was sentenced for six years in prison, but pardoned by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and released after three years of imprisonment.

    In December 1999, he was appointed deputy envoy of the Russian government in Chechnya, and in July 2000 - deputy head of administration under Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov. In December 2000, he was appointed Mayor of Grozny again.

    In February 2002, he was appointed vice-premier of the Chechen Cabinet-press minister. He occupied this post until August 2003 when he announced he would not support Kadyrov during the next presidential election campaign. After that, the ministry headed by Gantamirov was disbanded.

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