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Novaya Gazeta, March 20, 2003

Where all the Democrats Agreed

By Ekaterina Blatova

- We think - state the participants of the Fifth Meeting of the All-Russia Democratic Assembly - that both citizens living in Chechnya at present and also all citizens who had to leave the republic after 1991, irrespective of their present place of residence and nationality, should be allowed to participate in the referendum on the adoption of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic.

The Democratic Assembly expresses its concerns over the detention of two well-known human rights activists in Chechnya - Sulmbek Tashtamirov and Imran Ezhiyev - who conducted propaganda against the referendum and whose location is unknown at present.

The beginning of the peace process in Chechnya should include the following:

- The parties fighting in Chechnya agree to a cease-fire and conclude a truce and begin negotiations without any preliminary conditions to determine the principles and stages for implementing the peace process in Chechnya.

- The next stage of political regulation of the crisis in Chechnya could be a peace conference involving all the opposing and interested parties.

In the vote for the statement, the YABLOKO party, the Russian Joint Social-Democratic Party, the Republican Party and Leonid Batkin acting as an individual participant, abstained.

Explaining at a press conference the position of the YABLOKO party, Deputy Head of the Party Igor Artemyev said that: "In general we support the adopted statement, but we think that a peaceful conference must be chaired by the President of Russia, as this is the only way to guarantee that the decisions adopted at the conference are real and will be implemented".

The Democratic Assembly is a forum which began its work in June 2001 and is convened at least once every six months. About 20 of the biggest democratic political and civil organisations, as well as individual participants, take part in the Democratic Assembly.

See also:

Democratic Assembly

War in Chechnya

Novaya Gazeta, March 20, 2003

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