President Putin promises to carry through political settlement effort in Chechnya

In his address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin promises to carry through the political settlement effort in Chechnya.

The president recalled that his previous address to the parliamentarians had urged Chechnya's return into Russia's politico-legal boundaries, democratic elections and establishment of viable government institutions in the republic. Few believed this would ever happen.

One year passed, and Chechnya's current developments prove that we are able to accomplish most difficult tasks, said the president.

He once again thanked those who were involved in arrangements for Chechnya's constitution referendum. "Today I offer special thanks to the Chechen people. I thank them for resisting intimidation, for wisdom that is characteristic of ordinary people, who are so responsive to the truth," said Vladimir Putin.

Chechens felt with their hearts their own responsibility and what their future lies with, said the president. "The referendum revealed that the Chechens feel part of the united multi-ethnic Russian nation," Putin disclosed.

"We all did pay dearly for Russia's territorial integrity," said the president. "We bend our heads in memory of the military and Chechen civilians who perished in the war. We honour the memory of those, who gave their lives, but did not allow to tatter the country, who performed their duties to the end." "The referendum marked an end of hard times for Chechnya, of the years of lawlessness and medieval horrors when Chechens were deprived of basis human rights, when streets of Chechen cities were venues of public executions, when thousands of people were turned into slaves, when schools, colleges and hospitals were shut down." "The hard times are past," declared the president. However, there is yet a lot to be done to bring utter normality back to the republic, he emphasised.

"It is necessary to elect a president and parliament, re-establish local self-government bodies in line with democratic principles and on the basis of the newly adopted republican constitution," said the Russian leader.

He then urged a treaty drawing a line between the federal bodies' powers and those of the republican authorities, and Chechnya's reconstruction.

Chechnya's police force is yet to be entrusted to streamline law-enforcement activities in the republic, noted the president.

Preparations are on for declaring amnesty in Chechnya, which will be part of the political settlement effort, emphasised the head of state. Vladimir Putin believes amnesty will allow many people to return to peaceful life.

"These will have to be done under difficult circumstances, he admitted. The remaining militant groupings will go on with threats and murders aiming to intimidate the locals and thwart the intensive political process." Terror acts are now perpetrated against civilians, ordinary people, noted the president.

"Nevertheless, we will carry through the cause without fail," President Putin emphasised. "Chechens will lead a normal man's life," reassured the Russian leader.

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