Russia

President Putin: People of Chechnya vote for peace

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24.03.2003 13:50

Russian President Vladimir Putin said, referring to the preliminary results of the referendum held in Chechnya, that the Chechen people had favoured peace and positive development together with Russia.

"We have solved the last serious problem related to territorial integrity of the Russian Federation," Russian President said while addressing the Cabinet on Monday.

He said the results of the Chechnya referendum were "positive". "We expected them to be positive, but they surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts," Putin said.

The people of Chechnya have made a democratic choice, according to Putin.

The Russian President stressed that "from now on, all those who have not laid down arms fight for their false ideals and against their own people." "Their interests," Putin continued "contradict the will of the Chechen people to live in peace." (RIA Novosti)

24.03.2003 16:00

DUMA CAN CONSIDER AMNESTY FOR SOME MEMBERS OF CHECHEN ILLEGAL BAND FORMATIONS

The State Duma can consider an amnesty for some members of Chechen illegal bandit formations, said head of the State Duma international committee and Russia's PACE delegation Dmitri Rogozin.

"The State Duma is ready for any measures /including an amnesty/ if they are efficient for establishing peace and security in Chechnya," Rogozin stated answering journalists' questions.

In Chechnya "there are not only international terrorists, but also home-bred extremists, whose extremism is based on separatism or religious intolerance", he said.

There is also a third group including "those, who were possibly involved in this massacre against their will, those whose relatives were killed," according to the deputy.

"If an amnesty helps these people return to normal life, the State Duma can consider this measure for those, who did not commit any grave crimes, with their only crime being passive involvement in illegal armed formations". (RIA Novosti)

24.03.2003 15:50

NATIONAL POLICY MINISTER ON RESULTS OF CHECHEN REFERENDUM

The results of the Chechen referendum and the high turnout prove that "the Chechen people approve of the policy the Russian leadership pursues in respect of the republic's problems," Vladimir Zorin, Russia's National Policy Minister, announced on Monday.

According to him, the turnout also showed the nation's trust for the federal authority and the latter's growing influence on the republic.

He also said the federal authorities had expected a high turnout, but the result - 80% - had surpassed all expectations. In his opinion, the activity of the population was a response to Chechen militants, who had been threatening and intimidating local civilians.

"The Chechen population displayed its political will and a wish to live in peace, in accordance with the laws and the Constitution," said Zorin. "They have stood up in support of political settlement of all issues on their territory." He added that the constitutional referendum was an "important but only the first step in the process of political settlement." "There is still work to do to restore a peaceful life and form bodies of authority through presidential and parliamentary elections," he concluded. (RIA Novosti)

24.03.2003 15:40

CENTRIST LEGISLATORS WELCOME RESULTS OF CHECHNYA REFERENDUM

Heads of the State Duma centrist factions welcome the results of the referendum in Chechnya.

Deputy head of the Unity faction Vladislav Reznik told RIA Novosti that he welcomed the decision of the Chechen people to opt for the Constitution and the laws on presidential and parliamentary elections.

According to him, "this will provide an opportunity to consolidate peace in the republic and to start preparations for the election of legislative and executive branches." Head of the Fatherland-All Russia faction Vyacheslav Volodin also welcomed the Chechen referendum results. "Although so far we have no official results of the referendum, it is already clear that the people of Chechnya supported the Constitution, and it means in fact that they voted for a peaceful life, for job and home provision to everyone," Volodin said.

According to him, "the voting in Chechnya showed that the idea to hold referendum was correct and timely, though some political forces doubted the necessity of this procedure." "The people are tired of war, that is why they voted for the Constitution which will become the basis of a peaceful life in Chechnya," Volodin added. According to him, "the next step will be the election of the Chechen Republic president and parliament, and the signing the federal treaty between the centre and Chechnya with due heed of Chechnya's specifics." (RIA Novosti)

24.03.2003 15:20

RUSSIAN DEPUTY ON REFERENDUM IN CHECHNYA

Results of the referendum held in Chechnya have confirmed the republic's population aspiration to remain part of Russia, said Valentin Nikitin, the head of the Nationalities Committee of the State Duma, or the lower house of the Russian parliament, and Chairman of a State Duma commission for political settlement and observation of human rights in Chechnya.

The militants will not be able to gamble on this point any more, he added.

In his opinion, the high turnout proved the inhabitants of Chechnya were tired of living in uncertainty. "Political settlement has gotten off the ground," he noted.

Nikitin also stressed that both Russian and foreign observers had not registered any serious incidents during the referendum, and said he was pleased that the event had not been overshadowed by armed clashes or attempted terrorist acts.

24.03.2003 14:15

OBSERVERS COMMENT ON RESULTS OF CHECHEN REFERENDUM

According to observers, the constitutional referendum in Chechnya was held in accordance with international norms and Russian law.

Yury Yarov, the executive secretary of the group of observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States, said his group acknowledged the referendum as a "democratic and legitimate" affair. On the whole, the authorities of the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic have "provided the citizens of Chechnya with an opportunity to express their will freely and independently," he said.

According to preliminary information supplied by the Chechen Electoral Commission, the turnout was 85%. Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov, Chairman of the EC, said 96% of the votes were in favor of the Constitution. The idea of a presidential election was supported by 94.9% of the voters, that of the parliamentary elections-by 95.8%.

Commenting on the high turnout at RIA Novosti's request, the Russian presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Abdul-Khakim Sultygov assured that the information was "absolutely genuine." "People waited 12 years to express their will," he stressed.

Ilya Shabalkin, an official spokesman for the Regional Operational Headquarters for coordinating the counter-terrorist operation, said no incidents were registered during the referendum except the finding of an explosive device consisting of a 153-mm shell with a fuse and a timer in the Naursky district. (RIA Novosti)

24.03.2003 14:00

DMITRY ROGOZIN ON RESULTS OF CHECHEN REFERENDUM

Dmitry Rogozin, Chairman of the International Committee of the State Duma, or the lower house of the Russian parliament, and the head of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, thinks it possible that the Chechen Republic might hold presidential and parliamentary elections this year.

Commenting on the results of Chechnya's constitutional referendum, Rogozin pointed out to the "high activity of the republic's citizens during the referendum." In his opinion, the results indicate that the citizens of Chechnya opt for "peaceful life in the republic." "The referendum gives a carte blanche to the leading political forces of Chechen society and the federal authorities" in their effort to speed up preparations for the republic's presidential and parliamentary elections, he said.

24.03.2003 13:55

CHECHEN MUFTI ON CHECHNYA'S CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM

Chechen mufti Akhmad-khadzhi Shamayev thinks the constitutional referendum which took place in Chechnya marked the beginning of a new stage in the history of the Chechen people. From now on, the course of political settlement and strengthening of the peace process are irreversible, he told RIA Novosti, commenting on the results of the referendum.

The mufti stressed that the results had "surpassed all expectations." Even though the republic had been engrossed in preparations for the referendum, which had also included the efforts of Chechnya's clergymen, there had been fears that opponents of the referendum might try and wreck the voting process. The Almighty, however, made the referendum happen, "which means we are on the right track," said Shamayev.

The mufti is convinced the situation in the republic is bound to improve. "We shall pray for our stray children to return to constructive labor," he said.

He also stressed the clergy would petition the Federal Center to pardon those of the militants who are not on the federal list of wanted persons. (RIA Novosti)

24.03.2003 12:00

96% VOTED FOR CHECHEN CONSTITUTION

The Republican Election Committee's preliminary data suggest that 96 % of the voters have voted for the adoption of the Chechen Constitution, Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov, Head of the Chechen Election Committee, said the NTV television channel on Monday.

He added that 95 % of the voters voted for the adoption of the law on the Chechen president election, 96 % - for the law on the election to the Republican Parliament. Arsakhanov added that the figures were preliminary. (RIA Novosti)

23.03.2003 19:00

TWO THIRDS OF CHECHNYA'S ELECTORATE TAKE PART IN REFERENDUM

As of 4 p.m. Moscow time, over 65 percent of Chechnya's electorate has come to the referendum on the Chechen constitution and laws on presidential and parliamentary elections, the republican election commission has told the Novosti news agency.

Residents of Chechnya's Sharoi district have been particularly active - 95 percent of them has taken part in the vote. The turnout in the Vedeno district is making up 85 percent.

No incidents whatsoever have been reported. The referendum is going on smoothly. (RIA Novosti)

23.03.2003 18:20

CHECHENS TEMPORARILY RESIDING IN DAGHESTAN TAKE PART IN REFERENDUM ON CHECHEN CONSTITUTION

A large group of Chechens who are temporarily living in the city of Khasavyurt, Daghestan, has taken part in the referendum on the Chechen constitution, which is being held in Chechnya today.

The Chechens who wanted to take part in the vote were taken to the Chechen territory adjacent to the border, according to an officer on duty at the Khasavyurt police station.

After voting in Gerzel settlement the Chechens returned to Daghestan in cars allotted for the purpose and escorted by police.

Many of the Chechens went to the referendum in their own cars. (RIA Novosti)

04.03.2003 09:00

CHECHNYA BRACED FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM ON MARCH 23

Ballot papers.

The regional electoral authority has approved three, each distinctly coloured and possessing several protection features. One solicits for 'yes' or 'no' to a new constitution, another, to a law on electing the President and the third, to a law of forming the regional legislative assembly. Each is bilingual, in Russian and Chechen. The Chechen version is the work of philologists from Grozny State University and of experts from the Federal Electoral Commission. The papers are now in print and should be available for local distribution before March 2.

Polling stations.

There are 414, 34 more than was originally planned. Even small villages have their own polling stations.

There will be stations on the border with Ingushetia, so that Chechen refugees in that region could take part in the voting. The authorities are providing buses for taking refugees to these polling stations. Chechens in remote places will be served by mobile polling stations.

Permanently stationed troops are supposed to take part, accounting for under 7 percent of the total electorate.

Campaigning.

Local electoral authorities are sending out invitation booklets with guides to polling stations and with key parts of the draft constitution that goes to the popular vote. Colour campaign and education posters dubbed 'Constitution in Pictures' are being put up in towns and villages.

Ahead of the referendum, the 'Ada' analysis centre polled 1000 people in 9 villages for opinion on relevant matters. Sixty percent said they would come and take part. At the same time, as many as 51 percent did not even know what questions they were supposed to answer on March 23.

Funding.

The federal government has disbursed 59 million roubles for holding the referendum. Approximately 25 more million roubles have come from a foundation run by the NGO 'Campaign for a Constitutional Referendum in the Chechen Republic'.

Banking details:

Name - Campaign for a Constitutional Referendum in the Chechen Republic .
ITN 2016013560 .
Acc 40703810334000000103 at the Chechen Regional Branch of Rosselhozbank PLC
Corr acc 30101810900000000719 BIC 049626719 .
Payment type - 'electronic' .
Benefactor's bank Rosselhozbank PLC, Moscow .
Benefactor's name - Campaign for a Constitutional Referendum in the Chechen Republic .
ITN 2016013560 .
Acc 40703810334000000103 at the Chechen Regional Branch of Rosselhozbank PLC, Grozny, BIC 044525111 .
Acc #30101810200000000111
Acc @30301810500000013400 .

The foundation spends its referendum money on printing campaign material and copies of the new Chechen constitution. Each allocation is subject to approval by the Campaign's Governing Council, of prominent public figures and religious leaders in Chechnya. They also act as a watchdog to rule out theft and embezzlement. Another such watchdog is in Chechnya's regional electoral authority. It functions under the authority's deputy head Buvaisar Arsakhanov.

Observers.

To demonstrate compliance with international norms in the March referendum, the Federal Electoral Commission and the regional electoral authority in Chechnya have invited observers from the Council of Europe, Europe's security organization the OSCE and the Executive of the Commonwealth of Independent States. An early February poll by the agency 'Grozinform' suggests an 85-percent public 'yes' to the presence of international observer staff. (Chechnyafree.ru)

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