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Chechnya: Russia Says It Welcomes International Monitoring Of Referendum

Moscow, 11 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russia says it will welcome international monitoring of the constitutional referendum in Chechnya next month and regional elections that are to follow. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said in a statement that the proposed constitution, which will be subordinate to the Russian Constitution, is being examined by the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights body.

The council's human rights commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, is in Russia this week to meet with Russian officials and travel to Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia.

Gil-Robles is planning to evaluate the human rights situation in Chechnya and among Chechen refugees in Ingushetia. He will also examine whether previous recommendations have been implemented.

The referendum is scheduled to be held on 23 March.