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United Russia took a big lead in the Chechen parliamentary elections
United Russia took a big lead in the Chechen parliamentary elections, clearing the 5-percent barrier vital for gaining seats in the republic's parliament, together with two other political parties: the Communists and the Union of Right Wing Forces. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said United Russia is clear political leader in the republic. "Its representatives have been with us from 2000, they have been actively participating in normalizing life and improving citizens' welfare. People see concrete actions and deeds. In this, United Russia is unquestionable leader," Alkhanov underlined. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated all residents of the republic upon the successful parliamentary elections. "Many thanks to residents of the republic for their political activity, which has showed the mood of ordinary citizens for creative and peaceful life," the president said. He extended the hope that new parliament would take an active part in the life of the republic. Alkhanov hailed the polls as truly free, saying all the Chechens who wished to take part, have done so. "People were going to the polls of their own free will. It's impossible to force them, not with bayonet, nor under threat. The elections were free," he told a news conference in the Chechen capital on Monday. He also thanked law-enforcement bodies for organizing safe balloting, noting the role of First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov who had "carried out tremendous work in organizing of both the elections and their security." "Kadyrov is my closest aide as a member of the team," he stated. A 24,000-strong police force was ensuring security at the polls. There were no restrictions for the mass media or observers, Alkhanov went on to say. If there were any, that was for safety reasons. "We aren't claiming that there's complete well-being in the republic, that there aren't any gangs seeking to undermine peace and quiet," he said. All the recommendation from the observers, including from foreign representatives, will certainly be taken into account, Alkhanov said. The parliamentary elections were noted for the presence of many observers at each of the 430 polling stations. They were mostly representatives of candidates from political parties. In all, some 2,500 observers were monitoring the election, including 12 Russian senators, 15 lawmakers from the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament, and officials from the CIS executive committee, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Meanwhile, observers said they had not detected serious violations in the course of the voting. "Elections passed in a democratic atmosphere and were transparent," the CIS executive committee said. PACE officials did not have serious complaints either. “The European legislators confirmed that the election in Chechnya was normal and calm, and this comment of theirs is very significant to us,” Alkhanov said. Council of Europe representatives stated their intention to contribute to dialogue between all the parties in the republic. Tadeusz Iwinski of the Council of Europe's mission said the practice of Chechen "round tables will continue." "We wish to hold them again with broader participation of Russian representatives, perhaps in Russia, and maybe in Chechnya," he said. The deputy chief of the Russian State Duma’s international affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, has said “the European legislators during this visit to Chechnya have demonstrated they have been drifting ever farther away from superficial criticism and seeking constructive cooperation with the team that runs Chechnya these days.” He expressed the hope the next “round-table” conference on Chechnya would be held in Chechen territory
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