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PACE official's ideas on Chechnya annoy Russian delegates

STRASBOURG, France, and MOSCOW. Jan 27 (Interfax) - The Russian delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has rejected draft recommendations by a PACE envoy to Chechnya. 

The envoy, Lord Judd, prepared his recommendations after visiting Chechnya as co-chairman of a joint working group on Chechnya between PACE and the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. 

"The PACE members have just been handed draft recommendations [by Lord Judd] in which it is argued that the referendum on the draft constitution of the Chechen Republic needs to be postponed from March to a later date," delegation leader Dmitry Rogozin, the other co- chairman of the Duma-PACE Working Group, told Interfax by telephone on Monday. 

"Lord Judd most likely had no intention of going to the Chechen Republic
- either he didn't want to see anything there or he came with a decision he had prepared in advance. 

"We intend to insist on relevant amendments to the draft recommendations [on Chechnya], and if they are not supported by the Political Commission and the assembly as a whole, we will put forward a motion for the replacement of the chief rapporteur [Lord Judd]." 

Rogozin said that, as far as he knew, Council of Europe lawyers had seen the Chechen draft constitution and believed it met international standards. 

"We can understand concern about how successfully the referendum will
go: whether everyone will be able to take part in it and what arrangements will be made for the voting of refugees," Rogozin said. "But we have two months to solve organizational problems, and they are not the kind of problems that would cause one to consider postponing the referendum itself." 

The planned referendum was important for the whole of Russia, Rogozin said. "It's unlikely that there's anyone in our country who doesn't know about the preparations for this event," he said. "I'm absolutely sure - and our deputies who accompanied Lord Judd on his trip to Chechnya have told me about this - that he didn't meet a single person there who didn't know that extremely active preparations were currently underway for the upcoming referendum." 

Rogozin said that, if PACE rejects the amendments proposed by Russia and Lord Judd remains co-chairman of the working group, the Russian members would most likely leave the group. 

"We will express gratitude for what has been done but will prefer to act independently after that: we will deal with our internal problems in Chechen by ourselves. 

"It has been increasingly obvious recently that Lord Judd has begun to play politics, forgetting that it's not so much a purely political matter, [as] the lives of millions of people are at stake," Rogozin said. 

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