Accessibility links

Watchdog Says Rights Abuses Block N. Caucasus Stability


The Kremlin has claimed success in returning stability to Chechnya under President Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel, after two wars.

The Kremlin has claimed success in returning stability to Chechnya under President Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel, after two wars.

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Amnesty International has said stability could return to Russia's North Caucasus only if human rights violations were thoroughly investigated.

The London-based rights group, in a 48-page report on recent violence in the mainly Muslim provinces released, criticized the Russian government's failure to uphold the rule of law.

The Kremlin has claimed success in returning stability to Chechnya under President Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel, after two wars.

But Amnesty said fresh counterterrorist operations since Moscow lifted 10-year security restrictions in April could allow further abuses.

"In the context of Chechnya, the counterterrorism operation that the Russian authorities declared there gave a green light to these abuses," Amnesty said in a statement with the report. "On April 16, 2009, the authorities announced its end only to reintroduce it in several districts shortly afterwards."

A spokesman at Russia's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

Despite applauding recent efforts to improve the infrastructure and social conditions in the area, Amnesty said torture, unlawful killings, and secret detention persisted and fear of reprisals prevented individuals from speaking out.

Enforced disappearances totaled 58 in the first four months of this year, compared to seven in the same period last year. Rights defenders reported most of these disappearances were committed by law enforcement personnel.

"Normalization in Chechnya, as in the North Caucasus as a whole, is not possible without a complete end to human rights violations and full accountability," Amnesty wrote.

The group also criticized human rights violations in the regions of Ingushetia, whose president was badly wounded in a suicide bombing last week, Dagestan to the east of Chechnya and Kabardino-Balkaria to the west.

"Perpetrators of human rights violations -- both past and present -- too often walk free," Amnesty's director for Europe and Central Asia, Nicola Duckworth, said ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's Moscow visit on July 6.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has scolded officials for breaching human rights and vowed to battle corruption, but he has been criticized by rights groups in recent months for failing to deliver on his promises.
XS
SM
MD
LG