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March 18th 2003 · Prague Watchdog / Ruslan Isayev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Ingush police boost security for Chechen referendum

Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus, March 15 - The Ingush police force has boosted security for the upcoming referendum on the Chechen constitution.

Security has been raised in the Sunzhenski district, a region neighbouring Chechnya, and procedures for entering Chechen refugee camps became stricter. The PW correspondent learned that these emergency measures would be in place until March 24, when the referendum is completed.

All media covering the preparation and voting process will also be under strict supervision. Journalists must obtain special permission from local administrations to film or photograph in the Chechen refugee camps. Representatives of the Ingush police were quoted as saying this was to avoid “provocative materials” from being broadcast.

On Friday, March 14, local policemen barred a group of international journalists from visiting the camps in the Ordzhonikidzevskaya village and took them to the district police station. There the journalists were informed that they could enter the camps, providing they took no equipment inside with them.

Apparently, the Ingush police are seriously concerned that the situation in the republic might worsen; and they do not exclude the possibility that armed opponents of the referendum could destabilise the refugee camps.

Nevertheless, the situation in the camps remains calm. Because local police recently dispersed participants on a hunger strike in protest against the referendum, all activists have now refrained from public demonstrations.

In the four largest camps in the Ordzhonikidzevskaya village, 3,234 people agreed in writing to take part in the referendum. This number in the past two days may have slightly increased; however, it is still a very small percentage of the twenty thousand people in these camps.

(K/E,T)

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