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Russia: Moscow Says Combating Abuses In Chechnya

Moscow, 29 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia says it is introducing measures intended to stop human rights abuses committed by Russian forces during "special operations" in Chechnya. The Kremlin's chief spokesman for Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, today said the commander of the federal forces in the North Caucasus has ordered that troops carrying out sweeps be accompanied by senior Russian or Chechen officials.

The order says suspects arrested during the sweeps must be handed over to Interior Ministry and local officials.

Yastrzhembsky said the new procedures will "significantly improve" the situation in Chechnya. He admitted that sweeps in the past have frequently been marred by "marauding, brutality, and actions exceeding the orders given to the troops."

The spokesman said that 33 Russian servicemen have been convicted for crimes against Chechen civilians and 132 criminal investigations have been opened, 75 of which have been completed.