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Putin Welcomes Chechen Vote

28 November 2005 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the preliminary results of yesterday's parliamentary vote in the war-torn republic of Chechnya.

Putin told a Kremlin cabinet meeting the elections finalize the legal process for restoring constitutional order in Chechnya.

Partial results today show the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party enjoying a significant lead with 60 percent of the votes. Voter turnout was reported at 66 percent.

Observers from the Council of Europe expressed doubt the election was free or democratic. But Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said he received no complaints from representatives of the council's parliamentary assembly, or PACE:

"There were no serious remarks, no serious criticism, by the members of [PACE] regarding yesterday's parliamentary election," Alkhanov said. "This for me is very significant."

Chechen separatist rebels boycotted the elections, which they said were designed to strengthen Kremlin policy in the republic, where the past six years of conflict have claimed an estimated 100,000 lives.

(ITAR-TASS/INTERFAX/newsru.com)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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