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Council Of Europe: Hearing On Chechnya Still Has Support

Strasbourg, 24 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - Members of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Asembly have defended the idea of a special hearing on Chechnya and warned the assembly's officers not to be "intimidated" by Russian attempts to prevent its being held.

They were commenting on yesterday's decision of the assembly's Executive Bureau to postpone the hearing that was scheduled for this evening. Russia had objected to the hearing as an "intrusion into (its) internal affairs" before the assembly decided to postpone it.

In a 75-minute debate yesterday afternoon, most speakers called on the Russians to accept the idea that the conflict in Chechnya was not a strictly Russian affair. British Conservative member David Atkinson summed up this view by saying that, since Russia's entry into the Council of Europe last year, "Chechnya is no longer an internal problem -- it is Europe's problem."

Like many others, Romanian member Adrian Severin said he "deeply regretted that the hearing could not take place." Severin also warned that the assembly "must not be intimidated. It is our duty," he said, "to protect human rights."