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Russia: Envoy Calls For Improving Plight Of Chechens

Moscow/Vienna, 11 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - A European envoy today called on Russia and the world to improve the "alarming" plight of Chechen civilians fleeing fighting in the breakaway republic. Norwegian diplomat Kim Traavik said in Moscow that a major effort is needed to avoid a worsening of the situation. Traavik yesterday led a delegation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Ingushetia to survey conditions at refugee camps. OSCE spokesman Man Nyberg was quoted in Vienna as saying the delegation was refused permission to enter Russian-controlled northern Chechnya. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is quoted today as saying Moscow is seeking a quick end to the fighting. His comments followed a statement earlier by the defense minister that the military campaign could be over by the end of the year.

Moscow has come under increasing criticism from the West over the campaign, which governments say is killing civilians indiscriminately.

Russian forces today continued their air and artillery attacks on the republic, focusing on Grozny, the eastern town of Guderemes, and western village of Bamut.