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Russia: Bush Urges Respect For Human Rights In Chechnya

Moscow, 24 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush called for Russian troops to show restraint while conducting military operations in breakaway Chechnya, so that civilians are not harmed. Bush said Russian forces could learn a lesson from the way the United States and its allies are conducting their antiterror operations in Afghanistan. Bush said the war against terrorism "can only be won by simultaneously protecting the rights of the population, particularly ethnic minorities."

After the speech, a group of Chechen mothers gave Bush a list of 10 male relatives they say disappeared during a Russian security sweep south of the Chechen capital Grozny. They said they hoped Bush would bring to the Russian president's attention what they called "unprecedented" human rights violations in Chechnya.

Russia has compared its fight with separatist rebels in the breakaway Chechen republic to the U.S. war against terrorism in Afghanistan. Independent human rights organizations have criticized Moscow for numerous alleged violations committed by Russian forces against civilians in the republic.