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Switzerland calls on new Russian leader to end Chechnya conflict

The Swiss government hailed outgoing Russian President Boris Yeltsin as a guarantor of democracy but said he had also left the country with many problems. It called on the new head Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in Chechnya swiftly.

This content was published on December 31, 1999 - 14:06

The Swiss government hailed outgoing Russian President Boris Yeltsin as a guarantor of democracy but said he had also left the country with many problems. It called on the new head Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in Chechnya swiftly.

Yeltsin had a secure place in history as Russia's first democratically elected leader following the collapse of the Soviet Union almost a decade ago, the foreign ministry statement said.

It added that Russia should live up to its humanitarian duties and end the conflict in Chechnya as soon as possible.

Putin said on Friday that Russia's foreign and defence policy and its plans to reform the armed forces would stay unchanged after Yeltsin's resignation, RIA news agency reported.

"Russia will not change its foreign policy, it will continue building up the armed forces and military reforms focusing not only on providing them with modern arms but also on solving their social problems," RIA quoted Putin as telling Russia's Security Council.

Yeltsin, 68, stunned his own people and the world on Friday when he resigned prematurely after eight years as president. He named Prime Minister Putin as acting president and said presidential elections would be held three months early, in March.

Political observers say that Putin, not least because of his tough stance in the Chechnya conflict, stands a good chance of becoming the permanent head of state in an early election due on March 26.

The Swiss government said it was important for Russia that the elections will be free and fair.

From staff and wire reports.

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