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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yastrzhembsky Backs Broad Chechnya Amnesty

The Kremlin's chief spokesman on Chechnya said Wednesday that a broad amnesty could help stabilize the republic, a comment in contrast to Moscow's usual assertion that the insurgents must be wiped out.

The statement by Sergei Yastrzhembsky came four days before Chechens are to vote in a referendum on a new constitution, which the Kremlin portrays as an important step in restoring order.

Russia already has offered an amnesty to rebels who lay down their arms and who have not been involved in terrorist acts. Members of Chechnya's separatist parliament on Wednesday appealed to the Kremlin for "a universal amnesty for all participants in the Chechen armed resistance."

"My personal point of view is that announcing a broad amnesty could bring a calming note and contribute to the stabilization of the Chechen republic," Yastrzhembsky said at a joint news conference with parliament members.

Yastrzhembsky said the appeal came after more than two months of talks between Russian officials and members of the parliament, which was elected after troops withdrew from Chechnya in 1996.

Meanwhile, Russian officials said Wednesday that more than 5,000 Chechen police officers would provide security during the referendum.

The Interior Ministry said night patrols had been increased and checkpoints reinforced ahead of the vote.