Putin calls on Moslem world to learn more about Russia

President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation called on the Moslem world to learn more about the Russian way of life and the Chechen situation.

This was how the Russian leader answered an Arab journalist's question on how to rectify a situation when Chechnya remained a stumbling block in relations between Russia, Arab and Moslem public opinion.

"We can rectify the situation, if our friends in the Arab and Moslem worlds get to know more about the Chechen republic's way of life and that in Russia," Putin told Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper on the threshold of his Egyptian visit, due to take place April 26-27.

"Few people know that dozens of mosques have been opened in Russia over the last few years," Putin noted.

"Few people know that we have allowed all of the Chechen nation's well-wishers (regardless of their political views) to take part in restoring the republic. We have repeatedly declared amnesties, involving representatives of all political forces, except those, who are trying to achieve their goals by armed forces and by such atrocities as the horrible Beslan terrorist act, in active political activity" the Russian head of state noted.

"We facilitated a referendum on the Chechen republican constitution. I would like to stress that an overwhelming majority of all Chechen residents supported this constitution," Putin added, reminding Arab journalists that the Chechen constitution recognized Chechnya as part of the Russian Federation.

The federal center is also ready to sign an agreement on delimiting terms of reference with the Chechen republic. That document would grant substantial prerogatives to the autonomous republic. According to Putin, republican parliamentary elections can take place already this year.

Putin reminded his interlocutors that Arab League and Islamic Conference observers had worked all over Chechnya during the constitutional referendum and republican presidential elections. They did not voice any serious remarks.

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