Moscow/Lisbon, 2 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is expected to face more Western criticism of how Russia has carried out its military campaign in Chechnya. Ivanov is due to meet in Portugal today with his U.S. counterpart, Madeleine Albright, and top leaders of the European Union.
The EU's external relations commissioner, Chris Patten, was quoted as saying the Russian leadership needs to understand the depth of international outrage over alleged atrocities and abuses against Chechen civilians by Russian forces.
Moscow has strongly denied such allegations, insisting its forces have only done what was necessary to defeat terrorism. Russian military officials said federal forces are now chasing down the last remains of rebel fighters in Chechnya. Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said his ministry was preparing to take over responsibility for policing Chechnya as the bulk of Russia's forces in the republic start to withdraw.