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Chechnya: Date Set For Constitutional Referendum

Moscow, 10 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russian officials today announced that Chechnya will hold a referendum on a new constitution on 23 March, despite continuing violence in the separatist republic. The ITAR-TASS news agency reported that the Chechen Election Commission set the date after it examined some 13,000 signatures collected from Chechens supporting the vote, more than the number required to hold the referendum.

The decision comes less than a month after suicide bombers blew up the pro-Moscow government headquarters in the Chechen capital Grozny, killing 83 people. The proposed new constitution is seen as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to restore order in the republic, which faces constant clashes between separatist rebels and Russian troops.