State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev has held a meeting in the lower house of the Russian parliament with a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe /PACE/, headed by a member of the British parliament, co-chairman of the PACE-Duma working group on Chechnya, Lord Frank Judd.
While greeting the guests, Gennady Seleznev said that PACE representatives had come to treat "Russia as a homeland." "I don't even ask you how many times you have visited us already," the State Duma Speaker said.
"You have witnessed all the good and bad events that have happened in Russia," the Speaker continued. "You can see that a great advance has been achieved in the settlement in the Chechen Republic." At the same time, Seleznev stressed, "we cannot conclude that all problems have been solved, that peace and order have been established in the Chechen Republic and that all human rights are observed; but the political element in the settlement is coming to the fore." The Speaker said that the State Duma "is satisfied with the work of Russian parliamentarians, members of the PACE-Duma group, as well as with the work of a special Duma commission on settling the situation in Chechnya, which is headed by Valentin Nikitin." Seleznev announced that Federal Minister for Chechen Affairs Stanislav Ilyasov was due to make a speech in the State Duma on February 3rd. "We would like to hear that the executive power understands what exactly should be done in the near future to settle the situation in the Chechen Republic." Seleznev added that many Chechens living in Moscow and other Russian regions "turn to us with the request to allow them to participate in the referendum outside Chechnya which would contradict the Russian legislation." "We will ask the government to sponsor their trips to the Chechen Republic so that they could take part in the referendum," the Speaker said.
"Sure, many ill-wishers and enemies will be involved in the pre-referendum arrangements," Seleznev said. "We see how the population is being threatened, and terrorists keep cherishing their intentions. Yet, measures are being taken to ensure normal arrangements for the referendum."