ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – A Kurdish member of the Russian State Duma, Zelimkhan Alikoevich Mutsoev, expressed support over the weekend for the upcoming referendum the Kurdistan Region is set to hold on independence from Iraq.
"We pray to God that the referendum is successfully realized," said Mutsoev, speaking to Kurdistan 24 from his Moscow office on Saturday night.
Mutsoev, a member of President Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party, stated that all peoples have the right to self-determination.
"We hope that the Kurdistan referendum is conducted in accordance with international laws" Mutsoev, the former Deputy Chairperson of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, said.
The Georgian-born Yazidi (Ezidi) Kurd highlighted the Kurdish Peshmerga forces' "huge" sacrifices in the war against the Islamic State (IS), adding they were made for the sake of independence.
He also touched upon the 2014 genocide that the Islamist group committed against Ezidis by massacring men and enslaving thousands of women in the Shingal (Sinjar) areas, asserting that such events show the definite need for Kurdish independence.
"This referendum is not the demand of only Kurdish parties, but also that of the Kurdish people," he said, calling on the people of Kurdistan to back the Kurdistan Region's President Masoud Barzani and ensure the success of the initiative.
On Russia's stance toward the prospects of Kurdish independence, he did not give a conclusive answer but said President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov understood Kurdish aspirations.
The Ezidi legislator, who made it to the lower house of the Russian Federal Assembly for the fifth time in the September 2016 parliamentary election, also noted relations between Russia and Kurdistan were "long-standing and would continue."
Mutsoev highlighted the importance of recognizing the concerns of Iraq and neighboring countries, stating that "living in peace with them" is in the best interest of the Kurds.
Editing by G.H. Renaud
(Jamal Batoon conducted the interview)