A delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by the chairman of PACE’s special commission on Chechnya, Ernst Muehlemann, made a one-day visit to Grozny yesterday. Delegation members expressed concern over human rights in Chechnya and, in particular, said they were alarmed by the public executions carried out there this past summer. First Deputy Premier Shamil Basaev replied that he himself had been shocked by the executions; he said Chechnya was prepared to outlaw the death penalty if the Council of Europe financed the construction of prisons and the upkeep of convicts serving life sentences. Muehlemann warned, in turn, that international humanitarian organizations would be unable to work in Chechnya so long as kidnappings continue to occur there. He said some 50 foreign citizens are currently being held hostage in Chechnya.
Chechen first deputy premier Movladi Udugov countered by accusing the Council of Europe and other international organizations of having turned a blind eye to Russian aggression against Chechnya, which cost the lives of over 100,000 innocent people, and of failing to defend the rights of the Chechen people currently being subjected to a Russian blockade.
Grozny first made such accusations while the war was still going on. Not long after Shamil Basaev’s June 1995 raid on Budennovsk, Basaev told the Monitor that he considered western countries to be partially to blame for Russia’s crimes against the Chechen people. At that time, Basaev said he was considering the possibility of acts of sabotage in European and American cities. Other field commanders told the Monitor’s correspondent approximately the same thing. None of these threats was carried out, however.
Chechen Vice President Bans Alcohol Production, Orders Women to Cover Their Heads.