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Chechnya: Politicians Call For Peace Despite Suicide Bombing

Moscow, 28 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russian politicians are saying today that the Kremlin should press ahead with President Vladimir Putin's peace plan for rebel Chechnya despite a bomb attack that razed the pro-Moscow government headquarters in the region, killing at least 46. The attack has raised questions about Russia's ability to defend itself against Chechen rebel incursions despite federal forces' contentions that they control the republic.

The "Izvestiya" daily quotes Viktor Ozerov, Defense and Security Committee chairman of the Federation Council, parliament's upper chamber, as saying today that Russia should not be panicked into changing its approach. Russia's elections chief spoke similarly, saying that a constitutional referendum planned for Chechnya should proceed on schedule.

Two vehicles packed with explosives rammed barriers around Chechnya's most tightly guarded building yesterday, killing at least 46 people and injuring more than 250 in one of the most deadly assaults of the current conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the bombing an "inhuman act" that "deeply stunned Russia."

The United States said the bombing was an apparent act of terrorism and urged Chechen leaders to cut any ties to terrorist groups. Chinese President Jiang Zemin has sent a message of condolence to President Putin and pledged continued support for Russia's fight against terrorists and separatists.