State Duma speaker suggesting European Parliament delegation postpone visit to Russia

Chairman of the Russian State Duma Gennady Seleznev has suggested the European Parliament's delegation postpone its visit to Russia scheduled for the end of January 2003.

The suggestion was sent to the European Parliament's president Patrick Cox on Monday, Seleznev's press secretary Sergei Bukharov reported.

On December 17, 2002, Strasbourg hosted a ceremony, initiated by a number of the Parliament's factions, rewarding Akhmed Zakayev in absentia with the so-called passport of freedom, thus recognizing his "contribution to the fight for the rights and freedoms of the Chechens", the document points out.

Moreover, on December 19, 2002, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that welcomed "the decision of Denmark's government not to extradite leading Chechen politician Akhmed Zakayev", the letter reads.

"These actions aroused an extremely negative reaction in the Russian Federation, all the more so, as real conditions for political settlement appeared in the Chechen republic," Seleznev pointed out. "Russian society does not believe that such steps of the European Parliament contribute to the development of practical cooperation between Russia and European institutions in solving the Chechen problem," the letter reads.

"In connection with the above-mentioned, it seems expedient to postpone the visit of the European Parliament's delegation scheduled for the end of January 2003," the State Duma speaker emphasized.

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