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Russian Official Decries Abuses In Chechnya

31 March 2005 -- Russia's top human rights official has denounced large-scale human rights violations in Chechnya by all sides in the conflict.

Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin said in an annual report published today that the refusal by Russian authorities to negotiate with Chechen rebel leaders should not mean that rights violations by federal forces go unpunished.

Lukin, a former ambassador to the United States, was a senior figure in the liberal Yabloko party before his appointment to his human rights post a year ago.

His report was published the day after international human rights group called the situation in Chechnya the worst human rights and humanitarian crisis in Europe.

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and other groups urged the UN Commission on Human Rights, meeting in Geneva, to recognize that abductions, torture, illegal arrests, and extrajudicial killings plague Russia's Caucasus region, including Chechnya.