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Chechen president gives update on situation in the republic


MOSCOW, October 27 (RIA Novosti) - Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said Thursday the authorities of the North Caucasus republic would continue combating terrorism, kidnappings, and violations of humans rights, in addition to promoting economic development.

At a news conference in the Russian capital, Alkhanov spoke about the results of his trip to Strasbourg, the upcoming parliamentary elections in Chechnya, and the drop in the number of kidnappings and terrorist attacks.

"The registered number of kidnappings has dropped significantly against last year. In the first nine months of this year, 65 cases of kidnappings were registered. The figures for the same period last year were double that amount," he said, adding that the number of terrorist attacks in January-September had fallen from 130 to 70.

Alkhanov said the spread of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist Islamic movement, was due to a combination of religious and economic factors.

The Chechen president said regional authorities together with the Russian government needed to develop a policy on religion. We must "work hard on an ideology, which we currently lack." He also pointed to the high unemployment rate of 58.3% in the republic.

When asked the whereabouts of Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who is on the international wanted list, Alkhanov said, "In my opinion, he is somewhere in the North Caucasus." He stressed the importance of eliminating Basayev and his followers to help stabilize the region.

The president said cooperation between Chechnya and the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) had entered a new stage. The focus of discussions has moved away from traditional issues to the current social, economic, and political situation in the republic, he said.

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