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Chechnya: UN Official Says Russia Committed Serious Abuses

Geneva, 5 April 2000 (RFE/RL) - UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson is expected today to report to the UN Human Rights Commission on her recent trip to Chechnya and the North Caucasus. The commission is in the midst of a six-week session in Geneva. Yesterday, Robinson said Russian troops had committed "serious" abuses in Chechnya and urged Moscow to conduct an independent investigation of widespread reports of alleged atrocities. Robinson met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Moscow. She later said she had expressed "her concern at the scale of human rights violations." Russian officials have repeatedly rejected her criticism.

Robinson also warned Russia that it would face renewed pressure from the world community if it failed to conduct a credible inquiry. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is to vote tomorrow on a draft recommendation giving Russia until May 31 to conform with European demands on human rights in Chechnya or face suspension. Meanwhile, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov says his rebel forces will continue to battle Russian troops in Chechnya until they win. The statement was given to the council by Akhiad Idigov, Maskhadov's advisor and European representative, who was in Strasbourg. Maskhadov said Chechnya's independence had been recognized under the terms of a 1997 peace agreement that ended Moscow's first war there. He called for peace talks based on the same lines.

He urged the council to support his demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops and to send "an international interposition mission" to Chechnya to guarantee the outcome of any peace talks.