The planned referendum due to be held in Chechnya on March 23rd followed by the local government elections is called upon to open up "a new page" in the republic's history, the Russian president's human rights envoy in Chechnya Abdul-Hakim Sultygov believes.
The Chechen referendum will pave the way "for a large-scale democratic reconstruction in the republic," he said at a Russian-American press conference in New York. According to Sultygov, for the first time since the tsarist colonial policy, Soviet totalitarian regime and the recent terrorist reign under Dudayev and Maskhadov the Chechen people have been given an opportunity to decide their own future. "We are standing at the roots of the Chechen political history, and it means a lot to the Chechens and to me in particular, since I am a Chechen myself," the Russian president's envoy said.
The Russian federal authorities, "not Dudayev, Maskhadov or bin Laden", initiated the referendum, Sultygin stressed. Thus, the Chechens are receiving back the "rights given to them by God." The presidential spokesman believes that the move aims at cracking down on terrorists in Chechnya. "The republic will become a territory where people will remember terrorists the way the Israelis remember the nazi," the Russian presidential human rights envoy in Chechnya stressed.