Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 28

On July 12 in Strasbourg, Lord Russell-Johnston, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), issued a warning to Russia concerning the behavior of its troops on Chechnya. “In recent weeks,” he began, “there has been mounting evidence of a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Chechnya. There is little doubt that the conduct of the Russian forces–as manifested during the recent ‘mop-up’ operations in Assinovskya and Sernovodsk–is largely to be blamed for this. I expect all human rights violations to be condemned at the highest level by the Russian authorities. The reports of new human rights abuses come against the background of the Russian authorities’ deplorable lack of willingness to properly investigate allegations of past abuse. The failure to bring to justice those responsible for crimes constitutes a blatant violation of Russia’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe.” Russell-Johnston ended by noting that a PACE delegation would be visiting Chechnya in mid-September and that there would also be a debate on the situation in the republic at a session of the Assembly held later that same month. “By that time,” the PACE president declared, “we expect to receive evidence of concrete and substantial progress with regard to both the present conduct of the Russian security forces and the investigations of past abuses” (Press Unit, Council of Europe, July 12).