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Recommendation 1456 (2000) of the Parliamentary Assembly
                                                of the Council of Europe on the Implementation by the Russian
                                                      Federation of R 1444 (2000), Committee of Ministers,
                                                                      Strasbourg, 27 June 2000

Position of PACE on Russia's intervention in Chechnya


The Committee of Ministers has continued to examine Recommendation 1456 on the “Conflict in the Chechen Republic – Implementation by the Russian Federation of Recommendation 1444” with the utmost care. It has kept the Assembly informed of the progress in its examination notably at the Standing Committee meeting in Dublin on 16 May 2000 and at the Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee on 12 June 2000. In accordance with the recommendation formulated in para. 24.v of the Recommendation, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, the Foreign Minister of Italy, Mr Lamberto Dini, and the Secretary General, Mr Walter Schwimmer, visited Moscow on 24 June 2000 for consultations on the Chechen Republic at the highest level. That visit was preceded by a visit by the Italian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Umberto Ranieri, and the Secretary General who had high level talks in Moscow, Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia-Alania) and Znamenskoye (Chechnya).

Throughout these visits, the participants reiterated the serious concerns of the Assembly and those of the Committee of Ministers and referred to all the questions and recommendations contained in the Recommendation. Information on the operative paragraphs of the Recommendation is set out in part B of this reply.

The Committee of Ministers stresses the seriousness with which all the delegation’s interlocutors dealt with the expressions of concern voiced and all questions asked. The importance of membership of the Council of Europe by the Russian Federation and of her commitment to the Organisation’s statutory aims and fundamental principles was constantly underscored by the Russian authorities. The Committee, for its part, recognised the need to protect a State’s territorial integrity and to fight against terrorism while respecting human rights, but a political solution to the Chechen crisis based on genuine dialogue can be the only outcome leading to permanent peace and stability.

Following the visit to Chechnya, the Chairman’s delegation was able to note that the situation in the Republic had certainly improved. Fighting had generally been confined to countering sporadic armed attacks. Even so, lack of security continuesto be a serious threat to stability in the region and a hindrance to political and material reconstruction. Much remains to be done. It will require a longer period of time for the crisis to be solved and for the situation to be considered satisfactory in the Chechen Republic. Freedom of movement is severely hampered by surprise attacks, bombing and gunfire. Many internally displaced persons can still not return to their homes because of the security threat and lack of basic needs (shelter, electricity, gas, water, sanitation). Concerted attempts are being made to provide remedial help. International humanitarian organisations are active on the ground, together with NGOs, but their assistance cannot be further developed without an improvement in the security situation. The action by the Office headed by Mr Kalamanov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for ensuring human and civil rights and freedoms in the Chechen Republic, is fully operational in Znamenskoye. 700 complaints have been registered. Four other offices are operational in the Republic and three are to be opened soon. Improved security will dictate the speed with which they work to full capacity.

A number of positive developments have taken place in the region, which respond inter alia to the recommendations of the Assembly. They can be considered as the first elements of an ongoing political process, which is intended toculminate in due course in the reconstruction of Chechen society. Actions taken are designed to lead to the restoration of the rule of law and the respect of human rights in the Chechen Republic as part of the Russian Federation. The Council of Europe offers its assistance for working out a final status of the Chechen Republic, particulary through the Venice Commission on Democracy through Law. The Committee of Ministers calls upon the Russian Federation to continue her endeavours and will continue to pay attention to the results obtained. The Committee of Ministers encourages the Russian Federation to publish the results of complaints and investigations for crimes committed in Chechnya. At the same time the Committee of Ministers with reference to paragraph 10 of the Recommendation concerning the Chechen side and the holding of hostages, underlines the need for full compliance with it. The Committee stresses the important role to be played by the State Duma of the Federal Assembly in the normalisation process and in reconciliation. It has noted with particular interest the special parliamentary hearings on the situation in Chechnya, with particular reference to human rights, to be held in September; the Council of Europe will be invited to them. It is open to the Parliamentary Assembly to actively participate in these hearings on the basis of its experience and observations. The prospect of an early restoration of the voting rights of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly could be considered in this context.