Chechnya to have broad autonomy -- Putin

The Chechen constitution, a referendum on which will be held on March 23, will allow Chechnya's people to independently set the life returning to normal and realise the broadest autonomy as a part of Russia, that is much spoken about now,

Chechnya to have broad autonomy -- Putin 17.03.2003 MOSCOW, March 17 (Itar-Tass) -- The Chechen constitution, a referendum on which will be held on March 23, will allow Chechnya's people to independently set the life returning to normal and realise the broadest autonomy as a part of Russia, that is much spoken about now, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his address to the republic's population, broadcast on Chechen television on Sunday. A special agreement between the Federation and the Republic will be jointly worked out and concluded for the purposes, Putin added. Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the referendum on Chechnya is "the most important step to deal with the ruin and a step to order." A constitution adopted by the people is a basis for political settlement in Chechnya, Putin said in his address to Chechnya's population, broadcast on Chechen television on Sunday. The adoption will give an opportunity to elect truly democratic government supported by people's confidence, the president noted. There have been many attempts to prevent the referendum. But only the people themselves have the right to decide their fate and to adopt a constitution, Putin emphasised. Residents of Chechnya - Russian citizens - must live without fear and must not be frightened by a knock at the door at night and hide from the so-called mopping-up operations, the president stressed. There will be no appreciable results without the active participation of Chechens themselves in the restoration, without their willingness for real work. It is very difficult for people in Chechnya to deal with the consequences of the tragedy that hit all families without bypassing any. "And we together will have to work long, until the consequences are overcome completely," the president said. It is necessary to begin paying compensation to Chechens who lost their homes. "The Russian government is now attending to preparations for payment of compensation for destroyed housing. According to approximate estimates, about 280,000 citizens have lost their homes," Putin said. "Now it is necessary to work out together, with the help of district administrations, the lists of all who have lost housing, and to begin payment of compensation as early as this year," Putin said. He said "in Chechnya - even though not so quickly as we would want - a peaceful life is being established". "Life in Chechnya so far is looking like a life after a natural disaster. Over a long period of clan struggles, and struggles for power and money, not anybody else, but the ordinary Chechen people have paid by their suffering," the president said. However the "situation has been changed by common efforts". The federal centre has begun decreasing numbers of check-points in Chechnya, "and where they remain, they must engage not in extortion from the civilian population, but fulfil quite a different function - the function of the struggle against crime," Putin said. The withdrawal of excess troops of the Defence Ministry and the Interior Ministry from Chechnya is continuing. "With time, only units with permanent stationing must remain there, the main task of which must be support to local law and order bodies," Putin said. He stressed that the "daily life of the people is the main concern of authority". "People in Chechnya, like in all Russia, must have the possibility to live normally, have a rest, be treated, grow and educate their children," Putin said, adding " the children of Chechnya are our special headache". "Over the past years, a whole generation of young people has grown up in Chechnya, who had no possibility to get a normal education, were deprived of the most elementary, most essential things," Putin said. "And we can - and we will do that - give them a good education, good knowledge, we will give them a leg to stand on," he said.

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