STRASBOURG, France -- Russia has approved a resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the North Caucasus, the first time it has accepted recommendations on that region since it joined the council, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
Based on a report by Swiss Liberal Democrat Dick Marty, the resolution focused on the human rights situation in the North Caucasus, specifically in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Daghestan.
Marty's report describes the "cult of personality" surrounding Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov as "shocking." It claims that people who have accused Kadyrov of involvement in criminal activity have disappeared or been murdered.
PACE delegates said they were shocked by the details of alleged atrocities committed by the Chechen government. Estonian parliamentarian Andres Herkel sharply criticized Kadyrov.
"What actually is the essence of the so-called pacification imposed by Kadyrov? Yes, there's no longer a war there, but at the same time society there has been thrown back centuries,” Herkel said. “It's hard to ask questions about this, but the worst possible strategy is to remain silent. Fortunately this report clearly demonstrates that we are not keeping silent."
But Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Russian delegation, defended Kadyrov and added that he is popular among Chechens. "The fact is that the people of the Chechen Republic are grateful to first [Chechen President Akhmad-hadji Kadyrov] and his son -- the current President Ramzan Kadyrov -- that today they can live and raise their children in peace,” Slutsky said. “When we visit the Chechen Republic, we can clearly see the gratitude of the people towards Mr. Kadyrov."
Before the vote on the resolution, RFE/RL asked Aleksandr Cherkasov, a leading member of the human rights organization Memorial, how the Russian leadership might react if the resolution was approved.
"If the resolution is passed, maybe their attitude toward Chechnya will change," he said. "Though I don't know. Maybe Marty will be accused of being a biased enemy of Russia."
The PACE resolution calls upon Russia to cooperate with the Council of Europe in implementing rulings issued by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, especially in cases involving abductions, murders, or torture. It also calls upon European countries to provide adequate protection for refugees from the North Caucasus.
The latter point refers to the murder of Chechen exile Umar Israilov in Vienna in January 2009.