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The Russian government announced that troops would begin patrolling railway stations as the country nears December 17 elections that boast a complicated lineup of 43 parties and 2,700 candidates. TIME's Yuri Zarakhovich reports that the government worries that Chechen rebels will try to disrupt the voting with bombings as part of their pledge to bring the Chechen war to Moscow. "The government made a very bad mistake, With Russian troops still in Chechnya, they decided to go ahead with not only national elections but also with local elections. The rebel fighters are not going to be very happy with an occupying army voting in their elections." Chechen rebel leader Jokhar Dudayev, still in hiding in Chechnya's southern mountains, has condemned the election as an illegal contest to legitimize Doku Zavgayev, the Russian-installed Chechen premier. Zavgayev signed an agreement Friday with Russia that gives the region greater freedoms but stops short of full sovereignty. "It's a good step, and it gives Chechnya greater independence than any other region of the country," says Zarakhovich. "But it's too little, too late. It would have made much more of an impact if it had come earlier." The rebels now want nothing less than full independence, Zarakhovich says, and have stepped up their attacks, derailing a train Friday after exploding a car bomb outside of a government building in Grozny on Monday.