Chechnya elected a Moscow-backed Muslim cleric and warlord as its president this week, in a vote human-rights activists called worse than a farce. Akhmad Kadyrov, who has run the Russian province as its Kremlin-appointed administrator since 2000, won easily. The results were not surprising: Kadyrovs main rivals were disqualified from running, while thousands of Russian soldiers occupying the province were allowed to vote, and were ordered to vote for him. Still, while it wasnt free or fair, the election could pave the way for a Russian troop withdrawal. Kadyrov is widely believed to have traded token loyalty to Moscow for a free hand in running the province, and the Kremlin is eager to end the conflict there before next years Russian presidential election.