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    DUMA URGES RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT TO STEP UP EFFORTS TO PROMOTE IRAQ SETTLEMENT

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    MOSCOW, April 7, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The State Duma (parliament's lower house) has urged the Russian government to take more energetic moves to promote settlement in Iraq and the transfer of power to a legitimately elected Iraqi government.

    "Settlement efforts must be clear to Iraqi society, supported by the neighbouring countries and comply to international law. The Iraqi people must not be deprived of the right to determine its destiny," the Duma's international affairs committees said in a statement, which was approved by the Duma Council.

    The Russian leadership and the State Duma have on many occasions warned the initiators of the military campaign in Iraq that the situation may take a dangerous turn. Massive unrest has swept Iraq. The casualty toll, including among civilians, is increasing with every hour. Russian MPs believe the occupying forces' acts of retribution will not help restore order, but on the contrary, trigger more violence, which will sweep more ethnic and religious groups.

    Contrary to the declared democratic principles the coalition forces are persecuting influential Iraqi religious and public figures, instead of getting them engaged the settlement effort, reads the statement.

    The non-observance of international law and the enforcement of democracy in Iraq have led to Iraqi society's rejecting the "humanitarian intervention." Once opposed groups are joining efforts. The role of liberators from the authoritarian rule has transformed into that of occupants seeking to ensure their own interests on the invaded territories.

    Stability in Iraq will not be achieved by suppressing popular unrest, emphasise Russian MPs. They urge to get all the political forces of the country without links to terrorist groups engaged in the efforts to bring normality and end the acute crisis in Iraq.

    The further effective, long-term settlement process in Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people and for the sake of international peace and security requires the United Nations' participation, says the statement.

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