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Chechens and Ingush to Hold Congress

Volgograd, March 11 (RFE/RL) -- Representatives from both the Moscow-backed Chechen government and separatist forces loyal to Dzhokhar Dudayev will reportedly attend a congress of the Chechen and Ingush peoples later this week in Volgograd.

Itar-Tass quotes congress organizer Zaka Dzhabirov, who said the Moscow-backed Chechen delegation would be led by Isa Alleroev - Russian President Boris Yeltsin's representative in Chechnya. He said the separatist delegation would most likely be led by Ikhvan Gerikhanov, the former head of Chechnya's constitutional court. The congress will take place on March 15 and 16.

Ingush President Ruslan Aushev has also expressed his desire to attend. Some 150 delegates from Chechen and Ingush communities across the CIS as well as such countries as Poland, Finland, Turkey, Bosnia and Jordan are scheduled to attend.

Under Soviet times, the Chechen and the Ingush shared a common republic and they retain close cultural ties. Both peoples were exiled from their homeland to Siberia and Kazakhstan by Stalin in 1944 and only allowed to return years after his death.