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Russia: Council Of Europe Hails Chechen Elections

Strasbourg, 29 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - In Strasbourg today, the two Council of Europe parliamentarians who observed Monday's presidential elections in Chechnya confirmed that they were "free and fair" and took place in what they called "a calm atmosphere."

Ernst Muehlemann of Switzerland and Tadeusz Iwinski of Poland, both members of the Council's Parliamentary Assembly, said they believed prospects for peace between Russia and Chechnya were now good.

At a press briefing Muehlemann, who heads a special Assembly committee on Chechnya, said the apparent winner of the election, Aslan Maskhadov, "wants to end the war."

Muehlemann also said that Russian National Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin was "working for peace" and had gained the confidence of most Chechen leaders. Muehlemann had contact with both men during his trip to Chechnya.

Iwinski also praised the poll, saying "What we saw was democracy against a backdrop of ruins."