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Lord Judd: Chechens are not yet ready to vote in referendum

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Timur Aliyev, North Caucasus, January 23 -- Lord Judd, a member of the delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe which went on a three-day fact-finding mission to Chechnya and Ingushetia, effectively admitted that the Chechens are not yet ready to vote in a referendum about the Chechen constitution. He made this statement on January 23 in the Bart tent camp in Ingushetia, after his trip to Chechnya.
Judd told journalists that he was very worried about the fact that no one of the people whom he and Mr. Iwinski met read the draft constitution.

The PACE committee, which included Tadeusz Iwinski, who is responsible for migration issues in PACE, held a meeting with Ingush President Murat Zyazikov and visited the Bart tent camp near the town of Karabulak.

Lord Judd, who spoke with the residents of the camp, believes that the lack of safety guarantees in Chechnya is the main reason for refugees' unwillingness to leave Ingushetia. Zyazikov's assurance that he has no interest in the relocation of refugees is, in Judd's opinion, crucial. This morning Murat Zyazikov said three times that as long as he remains in office, no refugee will be subject to forced relocation to Chechnya, Judd noted.

Judd also said that he obtained a lot of contradictory information during his trip to Chechnya. When speaking to returnees in Grozny, some of them claimed they came back voluntarily, others said they were forced. Not physically, but under pressure, he added.

According to the information of the Ingush president, some 64,000 Chechen refugees live in Ingushetia as of January 10, 2003. "Some 17,000 dwell in tent camps, 26,000 live in the private sector and 21,000 rent a place," Zyazikov told the PACE committee.

Lord Judd affirms that peace in Chechnya can be secured only by the Chechen nation itself and nobody else. Peace cannot be guaranteed from the outside but the Council of Europe is ready to cooperate with all forces that struggle for peace in Chechnya, Judd stressed.

After three-years' experience with Judd's visits, which resulted in no improvements regarding the observation of human rights of Chechen people, many Chechens doubt that Judd's arrival will bring any changes to their lives in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

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