The President highly praised the balanced civil stance of the Chechen religious leaders and thanked them for their efforts to promote mutual understanding between people of different faiths and strengthen stability and inter-ethnic accord in Chechnya.
The President admitted that quite a few mistakes had been made in Chechnya over the past ten yeas, including by the federal centre. Under those conditions, a man in the street felt lost and frightened because there were no authorities to protect him. The state should not forget about that.
According to Mr Putin, the forthcoming referendum on the draft Chechen Constitution and bills on the presidential and parliamentary elections on March 23 is the only possible way to normalise the situation in the region and the most democratic way of creating a legal framework for the activities of the bodies of authority. The adoption of the Constitution and the laws on presidential and parliamentary elections should make the rehabilitation work in the republic more important and effective and open the way for the rebirth of the Chechen people.
The President believes that after the referendum in Chechnya the federal centre and the local authorities will have an opportunity to sign a special agreement outlining concrete ways of achieving a broad autonomy of Chechnya within Russia.
The Iraqi problem was also mentioned at the meeting. President Putin confirmed Russia’s invariable position on the issue. Moscow favours the solution of the Iraqi crisis solely by political and diplomatic means and believes that any other developments will result in numerous human losses and destabilise the international situation. The President said he knew that Russian Muslims prayed in nearly all mosques for the prevention of war in Iraq and shared their concern about prospects for settling the Iraqi problem.
In turn, Khamzat Salamov, president of the Peace, Mercy and Morality charity foundation, thanked the President for his firm stance regarding ways of normalising the situation around Iraq.
He also stressed that Chechen religious leaders welcomed the forthcoming referendum.
Khamzat Salamov asked the President to take additional measures after the referendum in order to help the former militants return to peaceful life.