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12 December 2005 -- The new Chechen parliament held its opening session today, electing chairmen for its upper and lower chambers and hosting an unscheduled appearance by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin arrived by helicopter and stayed in Grozny for just half an hour. The Russian president praised deputies for taking part in efforts in peace and said Russia had always been a "reliable defender" of the Islamic world.
"Russia has always been the most loyal, reliable, and consistent defender of the interests of the Islamic world," Putin said. "Russia has always been the best and most reliable partner and ally [of the Islamic world]. By destroying Russia, these people (separatists) are destroying one of the main pillars of the Islamic world defending their (Muslims') legitimate rights in the international arena."
Lawmakers elected economist and former Agriculture Minister Dukuvakha Abdurakhmmanov as speaker of the People's Assembly lower house. Akhmarkhadzhi Gazikhanov, a former district administrator in Nozhai-Yurt, was chosen to head the Council of the Republic upper house.
Both men were elected on the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia ticket during 27 November parliamentary polls, which have criticized by the West as undemocratic.