Legislator Blocks Pace Delegates From Speaking To Memorial

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 23

A representative of Russia’s State Duma seems to have deliberately deceived visiting PACE delegates in order to try to prevent them from meeting with Russian human-rights activists. According to a June 3 statement by Lev Ponomarev, head of the Moscow-based For Human Rights movement, Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky told PACE delegates Rudolf Bindig and Andreas Gross during their recent tour of Chechnya and Ingushetia that the local headquarters of the Memorial movement in the latter province was temporarily closed “for technical reasons.” But in fact, said Ponomarev, the Memorial office was functioning quite normally—and its leaders are still hoping to meet with the European parliamentarians.

According to a subsequent statement from Memorial, the planned meeting in that organization’s office in Ingushetia’s capital Nazran finally did take place late in the afternoon of June 3. Participants included relatives of kidnap victims.

Dmitri Suslov of Nezavisimaya Gazeta conducted an interview with German legislator Rudolf Bindig, the PACE rapporteur for Chechnya, which newspaper published on June 7. Bindig opined that the Russian authorities should gather together all the political forces in Chechnya, other than terrorists and other criminal extremists such as Shamil Basaev. “All of them must take part in a common search for a political settlement,” he said. “But the Russian side refuses to accept that path to a settlement.”

Bindig declined to commit PACE to sending official observers to monitor the late-August special election for president in Chechnya. “To carry out normal election monitoring in Chechnya is impossible,” he told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.