Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 42

On November 13, a commission of the Russian State Duma devoted to the state of human rights in Chechnya met in Moscow. Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) who, together with several Duma deputies, comprise a joint working group on human rights in Chechnya were also present at the meeting. Russian security officials and representatives of the pro-Moscow Chechen government were likewise present. The situation in Chechnya’s mountain regions was characterized as “explosive” during the meeting, and the human rights situation in the republic was said to be deteriorating. In his statement, Aslambek Aslakhanov, the elected Duma representative from Chechnya, commented that “a catastrophe is taking place” in Chechnya and observed that “arbitrary rule and lawlessness have become normal practice for individual senior officials, above all the [Russian] military” (Interfax, November 13).

It was announced on November 21 that the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Alvaro Gil-Robles, is organizing a seminar on respect for human rights in Chechnya, to be held on November 26 and 27 in Strasbourg. The seminar “will bring together senior representatives of the Russian federal authorities (including the Office of the Procurator General and the Supreme Court), the local [pro-Moscow] Chechen authorities currently in place, Russian and Chechen NGOs, and representatives of every section of Chechen civil society without exception. Vladimir Kalamanov, the Russian President’s Special Representative for Human Rights in Chechnya, as well as members of his Office, will [also] be attending the seminar” (Council of Europe Press Service, November 21).

On November 19, eleven leaders of Russian human rights organizations, including Oleg Orlov and Aleksandr Cherkasov of Memorial and Svetlana Gannushkina of Civil Assistance, announced during a press conference in Moscow that they had sent a letter to President Putin concerning human rights violations in Chechnya. Together with the letter, whose text was distributed to the journalists present, they appended a list of persons “who had experienced violence in Chechnya over the past two years, complaints of their relatives and other documents.” The list contained “some 200 names and addresses” (Memorial, November 20).