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Russia: Hundreds in Moscow Demonstrate Against Chechen War

Moscow, 16 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- About 500 people gathered in the center of Moscow today to demonstrate against the war in Chechnya. Human rights groups and Russian cultural and scientific celebrities organized the demonstration, calling for peace in Chechnya and demanding Russian journalists take a more critical line of the conflict.

Political satirist Viktor Shenderovich said the demonstration was attended by normal people who do not accept what the authorities were doing in their name in Chechnya.

Organizers said their view of the conflict reflects that of the majority of Russians.

The demonstration came the same day that Russian military officials announced the Interior Ministry would take over command of the war in Chechnya from the Federal Security Service.

General Yevgeny Abrashin said an Interior Ministry deputy minister would be appointed regional commander of Russian forces and 15 regional Interior Ministry offices would be opened in Chechnya.