Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 16

On May 28, Amnesty International released its annual report, charging that Russian and Chechen separatist armed forces had both committed serious human rights abuses last year. “Violations by Russian forces,” the report noted, “included torture, ‘disappearances,’ extra-judicial executions and arbitrary detention in unofficial prisons… Criminal probes by Russian federal authorities into human rights abuses by military and police forces in Chechnya were ‘inadequate and ineffective.'” Amnesty also wrote that an estimated 160,000 internally displaced people, most of them women and children, “remained in overcrowded refugee camps in Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia with inadequate shelter and sanitation.” Amnesty remarked that Council of Europe delegates who visited the region in December said that the conditions for displaced persons living in Chechnya were “terrible” and getting worse (Agence France Presse, May 28). On May 30, Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky sharply criticized the Amnesty International report, charging it with bias. “Their sources of information often only represent one side of the coin,” Yastrzhembsky asserted, “They rely on people linked to extremists, who serve the interests of [Aslan] Maskhadov.” (Agence France Presse, May 30).