Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 32

senior U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity stated in Washington DC on September 5 that the Bush administration is deeply concerned about the situation in Chechnya and is planning to send its new ambassador to Moscow to that breakaway republic within the “next month-and-a-half,” pending permission from the Russian authorities, to get a first-hand look at the ongoing conflict there (Agence France Presse, September 6). President Putin’s special representative for human rights in Chechnya, Vladimir Kalamanov, confided to RIA Novosti Press Agency on September 6 that he was not surprised to learn of the announced plans of the new American ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, to conduct a visit to Chechnya. Kalamanov observed that he did not think a visit by the American ambassador was needed. He underlined that a mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as experts of the Council of Europe, are currently working in Chechnya on a permanent basis and that “the activity of [Russian] federal and republican organs are fully open and transparent.” “If the ambassador wanted to receive more information, we could provide him fully with any that he needs,” he said. Kalamanov also affirmed that “there are no systemic illegal actions being committed by law enforcement structures in Chechnya.”

In a recent interview with the weekly Moskovsky Novosti (no. 34, August 21-27), Ambassador Vershbow, commented, inter alia: “The most serious problem in this sphere [of human rights] is Chechnya. We do not approve of the kidnapping, criminal and terrorist activity which took place in Chechnya before the present war. But the medicine must not be worse than the disease.”