Geneva/Vienna, 8 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - The United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe today issed a rare joint statement urging Moscow to respect human rights in Chechnya. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer, and OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel said Russia "must conform to fundamental humanitarian principles" regardless of the motivation for its military actions in Chechnya.
The statement was issued in response to Moscow's warning to residents in Grozny to flee by Saturday or risk injury or death as the result of indiscriminate bombings on the Chechen capital city.
In Vienna, U.S. ambassador David Johnson said at an OSCE meeting that Washington cannot accept Moscow's claim that the defeat of terrorists requires the destruction of Grozny. Johnson called on Russia as "a friend, not an adversary," to seek a political solution to the crisis.