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Russia: Foreign Organizations To Be Allowed Into Chechnya

Lisbon, 3 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - The United States and the EU strongly condemned Russia's military campaign in Chechnya today and received assurances from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov that Moscow wants to improve the humanitarian situation in the republic. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and EU officials met with Ivanov to discuss Chechnya. Later at a press conference, Albright said serious differences over Russia's actions in Chechnya remain. Albright said Moscow should let non-governmental organizations into Chechnya to investigate charges of human rights abuses in Chechnya and repair damage to Russia's image in the world.

"There's a real...chance here for the Russian investigators to draw on the information and expertise of NGOs in the field," she said. "This is the only way to show that Russia takes reports of abuses seriously and is prepared to hold people accountable for their actions."

Ivanov said Russia is ready to cooperate with international organizations. He told Albright that Moscow will invite the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross to Russia next week to work out an agreement on visiting Chechnya. Ivanov also promised to allow a visit by an OSCE delegation.