Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 13

The State Department’s annual report on U.S. efforts to promote democracy around the world, which was released on March 28, included some comments about Chechnya. The report, “Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2004 – 2005,” which was compiled by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, states that the Russian government’s “record remained poor in Chechnya, where there were credible reports of serious violations, including numerous reports of unlawful killings and abuses of civilians by both federal security forces and Chechen government security forces.” Rebel fighters “also committed acts of terrorism and human rights abuses in the North Caucasus region,” the report states.

Elsewhere, the report says that the “gravest threat to human rights in Russia continued to be the conflict in Chechnya and its expansion to other areas of the North Caucasus.” Senior U.S. officials, including the Secretary of State and the U.S. ambassador, “regularly expressed concern to Russian political and military leaders about the conduct of the Russian military and Chechen allies in Chechnya” and “used Congressional testimony, meetings with Russian officials, media interviews and public speeches to highlight shortcomings.” U.S. officials, the report states, “stressed that the United States supports a political, not military, solution, that Russian forces in Chechnya should end their abuses and that the Russian Government should prosecute those found responsible when violations occurred. The United States also called on Chechen fighters to end terrorist acts and violence against civilians, repudiate terrorism, and cut all ties to Chechen and international terrorists. The United States recognizes the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.”

Finally, the report notes that the United States voted for the European Union’s resolution on Chechnya before the 2004 U.N. Commission on Human Rights and used Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) forums to convey its concerns about Chechnya. “United States funding supported efforts to promote accountability for abuses in Chechnya,” the report states. “United States officials repeatedly stressed to Russian officials that all returns of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Chechnya should be purely voluntary and that alternative shelter be provided to those IDPs who wish to remain in Ingushetia…The United States funded international humanitarian assistance programs addressing a wide range of IDP needs in the North Caucasus. The United States also provided humanitarian assistance in response to the terrorist attack on the school in Beslan, North Ossetia.”