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Russia: Putin Marks Constitution Day, Urges Better Protection Of Rights

Moscow, 12 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today marked the country's Constitution Day, saying the document -- adopted nine years ago -- had broadened the freedoms and human rights of Russians. But Putin said implementation of the document remained imperfect. "The Russian Constitution has significantly broadened the horizons of freedoms and human rights for Russia, but unfortunately, people still encounter arbitrariness, lawlessness, indifference, and incompetence on the part of authorities," he said.

The constitution was approved by voters in a national referendum on 12 December 1993. The document stripped parliament of considerable powers, transferring them to the president.

In accordance with the constitution, the Russian president nominates the highest state officials and can pass decrees without approval of the legislative organs. The president can also dissolve parliament if legislators repeatedly refuse his choice of prime minister.

Putin used today's holiday to sign a decree ordering Chechnya to prepare for a referendum on a new constitutional charter. Putin gave Moscow-backed Chechen officials one month to prepare proposals on organizing and financing the referendum.