–LIMITED RETURN FOR OSCE TO CHECHNYA
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe may be about to reopen its office in Chechnya–but will have difficulty reviving its human rights monitoring. In a joint press conference in Moscow on February 17, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and chairman Solomon Passy of the OSCE said that they had agreed to create a task force to develop specific projects. From Ivanov’s words, it was clear that what the Russian side has in mind is humanitarian aid and economic reconstruction, not human rights advocacy.
–RUSSIAN COMBAT DEATHS MOUNT
More than halfway through what should be the winter lull in active combat operations, rebel guerrillas are still killing Russian soldiers at the rate of about half a dozen daily in Chechnya. That estimate, reported by the Associated Press on February 21, came from an anonymous official in the Kadyrov administration.
–KREMLIN AIDE POINTS TO FAILURES
In a surprisingly candid admission, a high-ranking Kremlin aide has indirectly conceded that Moscow’s operations in Chechnya have failed to curb terrorism. Viktor Ivanov, Putin’s deputy chief of staff, told an interior ministry conference on February 12 that “we are still not succeeding in preventing terrorist attacks, which have increased by 50 percent in the past year.” Ivanov was quoted in a UPI report of February 19.