Moscow, 3 April 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The top United Nations human
rights official, Mary Robinson, says Russian authorities refused to allow
her to visit sites in Chechnya where human rights violations are alleged to
have occurred. Robinson's spokesman (Jose Diaz) said authorities cited
logistical problems or continuing military operations as reasons for
denying her access yesterday to several Chechen villages and Russian-run
Robinson came to Chechnya to probe allegations that Russian forces
murdered, tortured and raped Chechen civilians. She has also called for
investigation into reports of rights violations by Chechen rebel fighters.
Robinson is due to return to Moscow today.
Meanwhile, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly opens a
plenary session in Strasbourg, France, today. The week-long session is due
to include a debate on the situation in Chechnya and reports of human
rights abuses against the civilian population there.
Members of a Council of Europe delegation that visited Chechnya
last month alleged that war crimes had been committed by both Russian
troops and Chechen rebel fighters.
Yesterday, the deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma lower house
of parliament, Vladimir Lukin, said there is a strong chance the Council
may suspend Russia's membership or impose other sanctions because of human
rights concerns in Chechnya.
The 41-country Council monitors human rights and democracy in