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Chechnya: Council Of Europe Condemns Refugee Conditions

Znamenskoye, Russia; 5 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A Council of Europe representative today described conditions at a Chechen refugee camp as "unacceptable," but ruled out placing sanctions on Russia as a disciplinary measure. Lord Judd, a parliamentarian for the human rights watchdog Council of Europe, visited the camp in Znamenskoye, Russia, as part of a fact-finding mission on Chechnya. He described the refugee camp's conditions as worse than ever before, due to severe overcrowding and poor distribution of food and medicine.

But Judd also recommended dialogue with Russia rather than the imposition of sanctions. Last year, Russia was stripped of its voting rights for one session of the Council of Europe's parliament.

Chechens have faced military strikes by Russian troops since the beginning of a separatist insurgency in October 1999. Some 40 percent of the Znamenskoye refugees have had their homes destroyed.