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Russia: OSCE Head To Visit Chechnya

Moscow, 14 April 2000 (RFE/RL) - The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe travels to Chechnya today to visit Grozny, the Snamenskoje refugee camp, and a hospital in Argun before going to Ingushetia. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austria's foreign minister, had talks yesterday in Moscow with President-elect Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Her meetings included discussions of allegations of human rights abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya. Before meeting with Ferrero-Waldner, Putin pledged to punish "with the full force of the law" anyone found guilty of atrocities in Chechnya. In a statement, Putin said human rights abuses during the military campaign in Chechnya will be the subject of thorough inquiry. The OSCE delegation said it will re-establish its mission in Chechnya, if security conditions permit. Ivanov said Russia is holding direct talks with Chechen representatives, whom he did not identify, to seek a political solution to the conflict.