Putin calls upon Western media to cover events in Chechnya objectively

In his interview on Thursday with the ARD and ZDF German TV channels, Russian President Vladimir Putin called upon the Western media to cover the events in Chechnya objectively.

Answering the question whether it is hard for Russia to hear Western criticism with regard to Chechnya, the Russian President said: "I do not see here any problems and I do not think that it is difficult for us."

"Our only concern is that the media should cover objectively the events going on there," Putin said.

Explaining the situation in Chechnya, the Russian President reminded the correspondents that in 1996 independence "was almost fully" granted to the republic. After that, the forces of international terrorism started to accumulate there, and in 1999 the neighbor republic of Daghestan was attacked from the territory of Chechnya.

"The problems of Chechnya's independence had nothing to do with that aggression. Those people who attacked Daghestan had set themselves absolutely different tasks, that is, to build a new Islamic state, a fundamentalist state, a halifat, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. It is this fact against which we are fighting," Putin underscored.

The Russian President expressed doubts that Europe was interested in the appearance of a fundamentalist state in that part of the continent. He is convinced that by its actions in Chechnya Russia is solving "an all-European problem."

Putin has admitted that under the conditions of the Chechen conflict Russia comes across violations of human rights as well. He underscored that hundreds of criminal cases had been launched against the servicemen who violated the law in Chechnya.

More than 50 verdicts of guilty have been passed.

"In Iraq, the Americans have shot down their ally, and they are not guilty, while we have sentenced more than 50 men to different terms of imprisonment. And you are trying to tell me that it is not enough. And what number should be, do you know? It is only the Prosecutor's Office and the Court of the Chechen Republic that know this," Putin emphatically said.

He pointed out that a normally functioning judicial system, the Prosecutor's Office and the Interior Ministry had been created in the Chechen Republic.

A referendum was held in the republic at which 85% of the Chechens voted for the Constitution, having thus confirmed their intention to remain part of the Russian Federation. The Chechen people were assisted to choose their president.

Currently the work is going on over the treaty on delimiting the powers between the Chechen Republic and the Federal Center. This year, aid will be granted to the people of the republic to hold parliamentary elections.

"If somebody thinks that we should do something additionally, please say in a normal understandable language, and we shall consider the proposals. And if they are sound, we shall put them into practice," the Russian President assured the German correspondents.

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