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Chechnya: Rights Group Urges U.S. To Press Russia


Washington, 23 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - A leading human rights group has urged the United States to support the cause of Chechnya at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The plea was made by Human Rights Watch in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She is due to address the commission's session today in Geneva. The letter said that Russia's inquiries into alleged atrocities by its troops in the breakaway republic are unlikely to produce any serious result. The letter urged the UN to open a thorough investigation.

The New York-based group first reported the killing of about 60 civilians in the Grozny suburb of Aldi in early February, with eyewitness accounts. The Russian government has said its troops were not involved.

The Council of Europe says it has agreed in principle with Moscow to send two human rights experts to join a Russian team investigating allegations of human rights abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya. Yesterday, Russian human rights envoy Vladimir Kalamanov agreed to allow the experts to set up a monitoring mission in Chechnya. The agreement must still be endorsed by the council's ministerial committee and Russia's Foreign Ministry. Kalamanov said he hopes Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will approve the agreement by the end of the month.

It is not clear if the observers would be allowed into the war zone in Chechnya.

Meanwhile, Russian forces continued their attacks on separatist rebels in Chechnya. Russian commanders said their troops are rounding up the last Chechen rebels in the southern village of Komsomolskoye.
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