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26.3.03

Chechnya referendum update:
Official Calls For Chechnya Rebuilding

Russia's foreign minister on Tuesday called on international organizations to help rebuild war-shattered Chechnya following a referendum on a new Moscow-backed constitution in the republic.

...With results counted from 347 of Chechnya's 418 polling stations, 96 percent of the votes were in favor of the constitution and only 2.6 percent against, according to Russia's Central Election Commission web site. The constitution firmly binds Chechnya to the Russian Federation.

I'm surprised at how high support for remaining in the Russian Federation was (assuming the vote was fair, and if there were egregious problems I think they would have been mentioned in the Guardian article), considering that the Russian army hasn't exactly taken pains to minimize the casualties and socioeconomic disruption visited on the Chechen population. No wonder the rebels weren't keen on letting democracy run its course. For now, I'm cautiously optimistic that this referendum will lead to the Russians not making such a mess of the place.

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