Members of Former Chechen Parliament Confirm High Voter Activity at Referendum

Representatives of the Chechen parliament elected in 1997 have confirmed that the referendum in the Chechen republic saw an unexpectedly high voter turnout, as it gave the Chechen people an opportunity to express their striving for peaceful life.

Six Chechen MPs who had arrived in Strasbourg to take part in a PACE session on human rights in Chechnya held a press conference at the Palace of Europe Wednesday.

The referendum and Russian President Vladimir Putin's address to the Chechen people gave rise to hopes "for a peace settlement and the restoration of normal life in Chechnya," MP Magomed Akhmedov pointed out. Most of the efforts toward that goal should be made by the Chechens themselves, he said.

It would be an "exaggeration" to assess the situation in Chechnya using European standards. "We have to grope for possibilities of settlement, and now such possibilities are emerging," Akhmedov believes.

"People took an active part in the polls because they hope for peace. I saw it with my own eyes," said another participant in the press conference, MP Khasan Atayev. Other participants also noted the high level of the population's activity at the referendum. They refuted European lawmakers' statements calling into question the Chechen population's participation in the referendum and its outcome.

When discussing the proposal to set up an international tribunal for Chechnya, the Chechen legislators pointed out that the Russian judicial system is robust enough to settle all Chechnya-related cases on its own.