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Chechnya: UNHCR Expresses Concern At Closure Of Camps

Geneva, 12 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The UN refugee agency today expressed concern about Russia's closure of two tent camps for refugees in northern Chechnya. The agency said the refugees housed there may have been moved back to Grozny unwillingly. Kris Janowski, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said some 2,200 people have been displaced by the closure of the camps in Znamenskoe. Janowski stressed that returns of displaced Chechens should be voluntary and said the UN is working with the government to resolve the concerns.

Also today, President Vladimir Putin appointed Abdul-Khakim Sultygov as the new Russian human rights representative for Chechnya. The post was created in 2000, shortly after the start of Russia's latest military campaign in the separatist republic. Western countries and international rights organizations had pressured Russia to form the post due to widespread reports of rights abuses by soldiers.