Kremlin angered by war crimes
The Russian government has registered
anger at foreign suggestions that there should be an international role in
the prosecution of those responsible for human rights abuses in Chechnya.
Responding to comments by the Council of
Europe and Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal
for former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the Kremlin angrily denounced all
notions of bringing those suspected of crimes in Chechnya to account
Almost three years into President
Vladimir Putin's war in Chechnya and in the light of persistent reports of
gross human rights violations by the Russian forces there, Lord Judd, the
Council of Europe's rapporteur on Chechnya, called on the council's
parliamentary assembly this week to devise ways of ensuring the
prosecution of abusers.
He further angered the Russians by
pushing for A Chechen consultative body including representatives of the
separatist leader, President Aslan Maskhadov, who was freely elected but
is regarded by Moscow as illegitimate.
Vladimir Kalamanov, the Kremlin's human
rights commissioner for Chechnya, said that Lord Judd was deluding himself
that he was the head of the Russian government, and advised him to behave
Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin
spokesman on Chechnya, told the news agency Interfax:
"Chechnya is not
Bosnia or Kosovo and Russia is not the former Yugoslavia . . . The very
idea of an international trial, the same as mediation in Chechnya, is
senseless and hopeless."
Three weeks ago Human Rights Watch in New
York accused the Russian forces of randomly "detaining, torturing, and
killing civilians in a climate of lawlessness" in Chechnya, and the
Russian -human rights group Memorial reported 20 "disappearances" of
Chechen civilians in December.
Visiting Moscow this week, Lord Judd said
that the next session of the council's assembly should consider ways of
guaranteeing the prosecution of human rights abuses in Chechnya.
Human Rights Watch said the Russian
forces enjoyed "carte blanche" for violence against civilians in Chechnya
and that Russian conduct was "undermining Russia as a credible partner in
the international war against terrorism."
By Ian Traynor - guardian / March 23, 2002