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Russia: OSCE Says Chechnya No Longer Moscow's 'Internal Affair'

Sleptsovsk, Russia; 10 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - The head of a delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today said Russia's military actions in Chechnya are no longer Moscow's "internal affair." Norwegian diplomat Kim Traavik made the comments as head of an OSCE delegation that visited a refugee camp in the Russian republic of Ingushetia.

Traavik said after the visit that many of the more than 200,000 Chechens who have fled the breakaway republic due to fighting are living in "very severe conditions."

Traavik said the OSCE intends to develop a peace initiative to Moscow to end the two-month-old conflict. The OSCE was the only mediator during the 1994-96 war between Russia and Chechnya.

The delegation's visit precedes next week's OSCE summit in Istanbul, where Chechnya is expected to dominate discussions.

In Moscow, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman (Vladimir Rakhmanin) said Russia is willing to discuss the Chechen conflict at the summit, but that it is against making Chechnya the main topic.