Conflict in the Chechen Republic
16 January 2002
Political Affairs Committee
Rapporteur: Lord Judd, United Kingdom, Socialist Group
In its Resolution 1227 and Resolution 1240 the Assembly formulated requirements to the authorities of the Russian Federation with a view to putting an end to the conflict in the Chechen Republic. In accordance with Resolution 1240 (2001), a joint working group made up of members of the Parliamentary Assembly and the State Duma was formed and charged with keeping under constant review the progress made in the implementation of these requirements.
This report concludes that the general situation in the Chechen Republic has not improved enough to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights and rule of law by the population as a whole. However, positive changes of attitude are now identifiable in the Russian Federation concerning the way to deal with the conflict.
The report reaffirms that peace in the Chechen Republic can only be achieved through negotiations in which the widest possible representation of political and official elements in Chechen society must participate. It is imperative to intensify humanitarian assistance to those persons affected by the conflict as well as to promote the social and economic reconstruction of the Republic of Chechnya through more efficient and better financed measures.
The Joint Working Group should continue its work, in particular, to facilitate and provide support for the initiatives towards a political solution.
The report recommends that the Committee of Ministers should ensure a long term Council of Europe presence, in the form of an office, in the North Caucasian region, take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in the Chechen Republic and assist the authorities to establish a Council for the Protection of Human Rights in the Chechen Republic.
I. Draft resolution
1. The Assembly recalls that in its Resolution 1227 (September 2000) and Resolution 1240 (January 2001) it required the government of the Russian Federation to seek an end to the armed conflict in the Chechen Republic and in particular to take the following action:
i. seek a political settlement
ii. end human rights violations
iii. bring to justice those responsible for crimes committed in the Chechen Republic
iv. improve the humanitarian well being of those effected by the conflict
2. In its Resolution 1240 (January 2001) the Assembly decided to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) made up of members of the State Duma together with representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly. The JWG was charged with keeping under constant review the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations by the Assembly and of the recommendations made by the State Duma following its hearing held in Moscow in September 2000.
3. The Assembly takes note of the work of the JWG, which has held seven meetings in 2001 including its latest mission to the Chechen Republic in December 2001, and considers that it is fulfilling its role of keeping under scrutiny the response by the Russian authorities to the detailed recommendations by the Assembly and the State Duma.
4. The Assembly also considers that the consultations on a political solution organised by the JWG and involving a cross-section of Chechen participants have contributed to initiating a broad dialogue between Chechens with different views. It takes note of the memorandum drafted and unanimously approved by the Chechen participants at the second consultation held in Strasbourg in November 2001 and considers it to represent a positive contribution towards a political solution.
5. The Assembly endorses the confirmation in the memorandum that “there is no alternative to peace negotiations without preconditions”. It also strongly supports the proposal to establish under the auspices of the JWG a broadly based consultative Council to be comprised of representatives of “all social groups and associations, and of representatives of the official bodies of Chechnya and Russia” for the purpose of “developing recommendations and proposals pertaining first and foremost to demilitarisation and to the establishment of conditions for generally accepted democratic procedures to take place on the territory of Chechnya”.
6. The Assembly notes that this proposal is made “with a view to contributing to the implementation of the peace initiative of the Russian President, V. Putin, of24 September 2001 and to bringing about favourable conditions and stimulating the process of finding a political solution”. The Assembly looks forward to early confirmation that the consultative Council has been established and has begun its deliberations. It calls upon the appropriate Russian authorities, at all levels, to facilitate and actively support its creation and work.
7. Meanwhile, the Assembly welcomes the action by President Putin to initiate talks between his representatives and those of Mr Maskhadov. It remains convinced that peace in the Chechen Republic can only be achieved through negotiations in which the widest possible representation of political and official elements in Chechen society must participate. It believes that the only requirement for participation should be a renunciation of violence.
8. The Assembly believes that the participation of Mr Maskhadov, the last elected President of Chechnya, would enhance the prospects for success in any such negotiations and towards this objective hopes that Mr Maskhadov will now authorise his representatives to take part in the consultative Council proposed in the Strasbourg (November 2001) memorandum.
9. In order to ensure credibility for the peace settlement process the Assembly underlines that there must immediately be a ceasefire in the Chechen Republic on the part of all concerned.
10. The Assembly calls upon Chechen militants to stop attacks against both military and civilian targets and urges Russian federal authorities to significantly reduce the number of federal forces and station them in their barracks.
11. The Assembly notes with concern the reports on bombardments of the territories outside the territories of the Russian Federation and believes that such actions would be unacceptable whatever the reasons for them might be.
12. The Assembly believes that a political settlement will require a comprehensive amnesty for all those who give up their arms and who have not been charged or sentenced for having committed terrorist acts.
13. The Assembly recognises that there are some terrorists, including foreigners, operating in the Chechen Republic who have no interest in a reasonable political solution. However, there are others who took up arms in response to mistreatment, under the influence of emotions or money. These people could and should be convinced that the vicious circle of violence will destroy their land and therefore the only solution is to engage in a political process. The Assembly reiterates that the legitimacy of military action against terrorists cannot be used by any state, including the Russian Federation, as a justification for disrespect for human rights and rule of law or refusal to seek a political solution.
14. The Assembly believes that unless full respect for human rights and the rule of law is ensured at all times in the Chechen Republic and that unless those responsible on all sides for crimes which have been committed in the war are brought to justice the prospects for acceptance by the people in the Chechen Republic of a political settlement will be greatly diminished.
15. The Assembly therefore regrets that the progress made so far in the sphere of human rights has been slow and far from satisfactory. In particular, the Assembly notes that progress in judicial proceedings including those against members of the armed forces accused of crimes remains limited and consequently a sense of impunity still exists.
16. The Assembly unreservedly condemns the lack of progress in the investigations into the most serious crimes, especially the allegations concerning mass killings.
17. The Assembly warmly supports the proposed establishment of a Council for the Protection of Human Rights in the Chechen Republic and endorses the proposed inclusion of representatives of the law enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor’s Office, the local Chechen authorities and both national and international non-governmental organisations. It believes that the work of this Council must be regularly reviewed in order to ensure that it is effective in accelerating progress.
18. The Assembly is deeply concerned by the continuing grave humanitarian plight of the many thousands of people affected by the conflict, in particular those still in camps, and remains deeply anxious about the prospect of a still further deteriorating predicament. It fervently appeals to the Russian authorities and to all Council of Europe member governments as well as to international humanitarian organisations urgently to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need and to take all necessary precautions to guarantee that the assistance is effectively and properly distributed. The Assembly cannot emphasise too firmly that this action is imperative and that it finds the excuses for inaction totally unconvincing. It believes that if ever the adage “where there is a will, there is a way” applies , it most certainly does so in this sad situation.
19. Whatever steps towards economic and social reconstruction which may have been taken, the Assembly remains seriously concerned by the lack of convincing employment and economic prospects for the people of the Chechen Republic and recognises that this discourages the return of displaced people, stimulates further emigration and accentuates a dependency on assistance for those who stay. It provokes a breeding ground for terrorist recruits.
20. The Assembly calls for more effective and better resourced measures by the Russian authorities to encourage economic and social reconstruction, and calls on member governments of the Council of Europe unstintingly to support such measures. The Assembly also believes that without strong action to combat corruption, economic and social reconstruction will be impossible to achieve. It applauds the courage of those who often at great personal risk do endeavour to make a stand against such economic sabotage.
21. The Assembly concludes that the general situation in the Chechen Republic has not improved enough to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights and rule of law by the population as a whole.
22. However, the Assembly recognises that, although frustratingly slow, at least some progress has been made; it notes that this is the result of positive changes of attitude which are now identifiable in the Russian Federation concerning the way to deal with the conflict. The Assembly therefore believes that it is by supporting or strengthening the position of those within the Russian Federation who advocate and strive for such changes that the Council of Europe can make its most effective contribution. It understands that the position of those who advocate political solution entails great commitment, resolve, candour and firmness, but is convinced that while success cannot soon be guaranteed any other course would be a dereliction of responsibility.
23. The Assembly notes that the JWG and the Assembly itself are amongst the very few international fora where progress can be monitored, criticism can be expressed, pressure can be asserted and where discussions on a political solution can take place. It therefore reaffirms its support for the work of the JWG on its behalf and believes that the principal task should now be to facilitate and provide support for the initiative towards a political solution as agreed by the Chechens present at the second consultation which took place in Strasbourg in November 2001.
24. The Assembly stresses that only a political solution genuinely forged and respected by the people of the Russian Federation including the people of the Chechen Republic themselves will create the durable conditions for ensuring full enjoyment of human rights and the rule of law, for solving the problem of refugees and displaced people and for the successful economic and social reconstruction of the Chechen Republic. It believes that in the absence of such a political solution all other remedies, however important in themselves, can only bring ameliorative and temporary relief.
25. The Assembly records its appreciation for the strenuous efforts by the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and his small staff to develop a commitment to human rights in the Chechen Republic and the Russian Federation as a whole, and for his work to protect the human rights of the people of the Chechen Republic; similarly it records its continued appreciation of, and support for the contribution being made by the experts of the Council of Europe stationed in Znamenskoye.
26. The Assembly is convinced that the Council of Europe must remain present in the North Caucasus region, and, where appropriate, in agreement with the federal and local authorities widen its activities beyond its current contribution in the office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in Znamenskoye: it believes that while the work for human rights will remain essential, it is necessary to extend the scope of the activities of the Council of Europe to the strengthening the protection of democratic stability, the rule of law and the protection of human rights in the North Caucasus.
II. Draft recommendation
The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Resolution ... (2002) adopted on ... January 2002, and recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
1. immediately take the necessary steps to establish a long term Council of Europe presence and office in the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation with the dual objectives of contributing to full respect for human rights and the rule of law in the Chechen Republic and also of extending the contribution by the Council of Europe to other spheres within its competence;
2. urgently include on its agenda the priority need for a substantial increase in humanitarian assistance to victims of the conflict in the Chechen Republic and for effective arrangements for the distribution of such assistance;
3. make immediate representations to its member governments for a speedy and generous response both to the humanitarian crisis and also to the challenge of economic and social reconstruction of the Chechen Republic;
4. assist the authorities of the Russian Federation in establishing without delay a Council for the Protection of Human Rights in the Chechen Republic to include the participation of representatives of the law enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor’s Office, the local Chechen authorities and national and international non-governmental organisations; and ensure meaningful and ongoing participation by the Council of Europe in this body.
III. Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur
1. In its Resolution 1227 (September 2000) and Resolution 1240 (January 2001), the Assembly set out requirements of the government of the Russian Federation aimed at stopping the armed conflict in the Chechen Republic and finding a political settlement, putting an end to the human rights violations, bringing to justice the authors of the crimes committed in the Chechen Republic and improving humanitarian situation of those affected by the conflict.
2. In Resolution 1240 (2001) the Assembly decided to set up a Joint Working Group, comprised of representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly and of the State Duma (JWG), to keep under constant review the progress made on the Assembly’s recommendations as well as on the recommendations formulated by the State Duma following a hearing held in September 2000 in Moscow. (Please consult Appendix I for the list of members of the JWG)
3. The JWG held seven meetings in 2001, including its latest mission to the Chechen Republic in December 2001. During 2001 the JWG presented reports on its activities to the Assembly at each part-session - the first two reports were appendices to the Bureau’s progress reports in April 2001 and June 2001, and the third was presented to the Assembly in September 2001 during a separate debate (Doc. 9227).
4. Given the comprehensive reports throughout the year, I do not consider it appropriate in this report to cover again the period from January to September 2001. Therefore, this explanatory memorandum will deal with the latest two meetings of the JWG, i.e. the consultation with Chechen representatives held on 28 - 29 November 2001 in Strasbourg and the mission to the Chechen Republic and Moscow which took place on 2 - 6 December 2001.
5. However, the draft resolution, which I am presenting to the Political Affairs Committee for adoption, is based on my evaluation of the developments in Chechnya and the North Caucasus region since the Assembly last voted on this issue in January 2001.
6. I should like to express my appreciation to the members of the JWG, who participated actively in its work during past year. I realise that this required great effort and some personal sacrifice. But, I consider that those of us who have volunteered for membership of the JWG have to assume full responsibility for the task because human lives may depend directly on our work. Commitment to this job cannot be made in half-measures!
7. I must also express my appreciation to the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Bruno Haller, who devoted an enormous amount of time and energy to the JWG. He was always available to provide help and advice. I should like, in particular, to thank him for the fair, efficient and sensitive way in which he chaired the two consultations on a political solution which were held in Strasbourg in September and November 2001. Warm tributes are indeed due to all those members of the Council of Europe Secretariat and of the staff of the Duma who provide generous, effective and very professional service to the JWG at all hours of day and night whether it be their essential work in Strasbourg or Moscow or on missions to Russia and the North Caucasus region. Sometimes this involves considerable personal sacrifice when called upon to travel at extremely short notice or to meet deadlines for the preparation of reports. It is heartening and altogether good to work with people of such commitment and calibre.
2. Second JWG consultation on a political solution to the conflict in Chechnya (Strasbourg, 28-29 November 2001)
8. This meeting was a follow-up to the first consultation with Chechen representatives, which took place on 21 - 22 September 2001 in Strasbourg. At the first meeting, the Chechen participants, in particular:
i. agreed that everything possible must be done in order to stop the violence in Chechnya;
ii. supported, in principle, the establishment of a public consultative body through which the people of Chechnya could freely formulate and express their opinions with regard to the situation in Chechnya and its future;
iii. expressed their wish that the JWG should organise a second consultation before the end of the year 2001.
9. Accordingly, the second consultation took place on 28 - 29 November 2001 in Strasbourg. As in September, an invitation was extended to those Chechens who were prepared to commit themselves to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict and to the renunciation of violence.
10. The list of invitees and actual participants is appended (Appendix II). As happened at the first consultation held in September, Mr Maskhadov’s representatives, despite having received an invitation to the meeting, did not attend.
11. The consultation took place immediately after a seminar organised by the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner on ‘the protection and respect for human rights as the basis for a democratic reconstruction of the Republic of Chechnya’, which was held on 26 and 27 November 2001.
12. At the request of the two co-chairmen of the Joint Working Group, the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly chaired the consultation. In his introductory statement, he underlined that justice must be the basis for peace and reconciliation and that guaranteeing respect for human rights was necessary to ensure real prospects for a political solution. Following his proposal, the participants in the consultation concentrated on:
i. ways to stop the fighting in Chechnya, both by the federal forces and Chechen fighters;
ii. setting-up of a broad-based consultative body, which was recommended by the Assembly in its Resolution 1240 (2001).
13. After the consultation, the Secretary General of the Assembly described “the discussions as direct and frank, sometimes tense but always respectful.” He reported that “all participants agreed” that there was no military solution to the conflict and that a political solution must be found through the appropriate political steps and measures. It was also agreed that the cessation of hostilities was a key element to the success of the political process. An agreement was reached on the necessity of establishing a consultative body, which would be open to all representatives of Chechen society committed to a peaceful settlement of the conflict. This body would not be a State institution but a forum for dialogue and initiative. The modalities for setting up this body, its composition and its tasks were discussed by the participants.” I fully share the Secretary General’s evaluation.
14. During the second day of the consultation, the Chechen participants decided to meet separately and they reached agreement on a memorandum, which is appended to this report (Appendix III). In this memorandum, they unanimously agreed that “there is no alternative to peace negotiations without preconditions” and decided, again unanimously, to establish “under the aegis of the JWG a broadly-based consultative Council, which includes representatives of all social groups, associations and representatives of the official bodies of Chechnya and Russia, for the purpose of developing recommendations and proposals pertaining first and foremost to the demilitarisation and to the establishment of the conditions for generally accepted democratic procedures.” A preparatory committee comprising 13 members, all Chechens, was set up to prepare the first meeting of this body between 15 and 20 December 2001 in Moscow. It is intended that the first session of the Council itself will take place at the beginning of the year 2002.
15. The consultation has, I believe, contributed to initiating wider dialogue between Chechens of different political orientations and the memorandum which was approved represents a step towards a political solution. I hope the Assembly will support the proposals contained in this memorandum and ask the highest Russian authorities to give their support to the proposed consultative Council.
16. A principal task for this Council should be to prepare the way for holding democratic elections in the Chechen Republic as soon as possible.
17. I am convinced that peace in the Chechen Republic can only be achieved through negotiations in which the broadest possible cross-section of political and official elements in Chechen society participate. Representatives of all those who renounce violence should be involved in this process. I firmly believe that finding a viable lasting solution is not only a matter of talking to the people who have so far been willing to participate in consultations. The participation of Mr Maskhadov, last elected President of Chechnya, in the process would enhance the chance of success. Therefore, I hope that Mr Maskhadov will authorise his representatives to participate in the work of the consultative Council.
3. Mission by the JWG to the Chechen Republic and Moscow (2 - 6 December 2001)
18. As part of a mission by the JWG, I visited the Chechen Republic and Moscow from 2 to 6 December 2001. The programme of the mission is annexed to this report in Appendix IV. From the Assembly, members of the mission were Mr Bindig (Germany, SOC), Rapporteur for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Mrs Lara Ragnarsdottir (Iceland, EDG), member of the Political Affairs Committee and Chairperson of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, Mr Mats Einarsson (Sweden, UEL), Vice-chairman of the Committee on Migration, Refugee and Demography.
19. The Russian members of the JWG, who participated in the mission were Mr Dmitry Rogozin (Russia, EDG), co-chairman of the JWG, Mr Leonid Slutsky (Russia, SOC) and Mr Nikolai Shaklein, member of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly. Mr Eduard Vorobiev, Deputy Chair of the Duma’s Defence Committee (Union of Right Forces) joined us for several meetings in Moscow. Mr Aslambek Aslakhanov, Deputy of the State Duma, also accompanied the mission in Chechnya.
20. I would like to thank the State Duma and all the other institutions and officials who contributed to the organisation of this mission. Due to adverse weather the mission was compelled to shorten its programme in Grozny and, unfortunately, was also unable to visit Ingushetia.
a. general situation
21. The security situation in the Chechen Republic remains difficult and attacks on the federal and police forces are frequent.
22. In response, “anti-terrorist” or “special” operations are increasingly being carried out to target individuals suspected of supporting or participating in terrorist activities. As a result of these operations, complaints and reports concerning missing people, ill treatment and arbitrary killings continue to be received.
23. These operations are supposedly carried out in accordance with Decree no. 46 of the Prosecutor General issued in July 2001. Following this Decree, the Prosecutor of Chechnya, together with the Military Prosecutor of the Northern Caucasus Military District and the Federal Commander in Chechnya issued a Joint Directive that regulates the interaction of military and civilian prosecutors with the federal forces during mop-up operations. It requires the presence of a prosecutor and a representative of the local civilian administration during these operations.
24. However, following a mop-up operation at the University of Grozny carried-out on 12 November 2001, staff and students accused the military, which conducted the operation, of serious human rights violations by unidentified armed forces wearing black masks. Neither representatives of the prosecutor nor of the civilian authorities were present nor had the University authorities been informed beforehand.
25. The Rector of the University confirmed to our mission that violations of human rights by the federal forces and illegal detentions had indeed been reported. The cases had been submitted to the Prosecutor’s office and were currently under investigation.
26. We were told that since spring 2001, the Prosecutor’s office had started seriously to address the problem of unmarked army vehicles. A significant decrease in the number of these vehicles has been reported by the Chechen administration and by the military as well as by the Council of Europe experts in Mr Kalamanov’s office. At present, it is said to be rare to see military vehicles with irregular identification.
27. The Chechen administration has evidently proposed that Chechen conscripts should carry out their military service in their own communities, serve unarmed in the troops of various Chechen Ministries and participate in reconstruction efforts or in public utility work. We were told that the military authorities had accepted these proposals.
28. The transfer of power from the federal police departments (“provisional”) to the local Chechen departments (“permanent”) which is underway in several districts is scheduled to be completed by the end of January 2002.
29. The police forces in the Republic increasingly incorporate ethnic Chechens. It should be stressed that the new Police Chief of the Chechen Republic, Mr Said Peshkhoev, was appointed on 26 November 2001. The appointment of a Chechen to this highest-ranking police post may be a sign of growing confidence on the part of the federal authorities and hopefully may contribute to the police force becoming more acceptable and efficient.
30. Council of Europe experts have certainly witnessed the presence of Chechen policemen participating actively in controlling the traffic at the checkpoints in Grozny.
b. human rights
31. The human rights situation in Chechnya is closely followed by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. Therefore, more detailed information on this issue may be found in the Opinion to be prepared by Mr Rudolf Bindig.
32. Significantly, the Deputy General Prosecutor was not able to give us precise information on the progress of investigations into the alleged mass killings in Alkhan-Yurt, Staropromyslovski and Aldi. The first case is still under investigation and the two others have been suspended. Regrettably, the mission was not able to obtain any further explanations.
33. At our meeting with the Deputy General Prosecutor I was extremely disappointed that he could not give any information on the status of the criminal cases opened by the Prosecutor’s office concerning alleged crimes against civilians committed by the armed and special police forces, as detailed in the list provided to the Assembly last April. Following our formal and very firm request, we received updated information one week after our mission.
34. According to the information provided by the Prosecutor’s office, between May and December 2001, 102 cases were brought before the Prosecutor’s office. The investigations were completed in 17 cases: one case led to a conviction, court proceedings are still ongoing for 13 cases and 3 cases have been closed. 15 cases were sent to military prosecutors, 48 cases were suspended and 25 cases are still under investigation.
35. The Deputy Military Prosecutor claimed that the Office of the Military Prosecutor has done much to restore the rule of law in the Republic of Chechnya. By early December, the military Prosecutor’s office had opened criminal investigations in 110 cases (compared with 36 in the year 2000) concerning alleged crimes against the civilian population by servicemen. 60 investigations had been completed, out of which 37 cases were sent to the Court (involving crimes by 42 people).
36. So far, military courts have convicted 18 servicemen, including 2 officers, for crimes against civilians.
37. We were told that access by the general public to the prosecutor’s offices in Chechnya has improved. One day a week the Prosecutor of Chechnya and the military prosecutor receive applicants in Grozny.
38. In the case of Mr Ruslan Alikhodjzhiyev, former Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, the General Prosecutor of the Chechen Republic informed us that no progress regarding the investigation has been made and that the location of Mr Alikhodjzhiyev remains unknown.
39. However, the work of the Office of Mr Kalamanov, with the involvement of the three experts of the Council of Europe, does demonstrate tangible results:
i. a list of 1,118 missing people has been completed: 210 people were located in detention, of whom 182 were granted amnesty and released, and 31 were found dead;
ii. 22,027 consultations have been registered. It should be noted that the term “consultations” refers to the total number of citizens seeking assistance from the head office in Znamenskoye and the branch offices. Out of this total number of consultations, 7,138 resulted in formal applications or complaints being lodged. 59 people were released from detention following intervention by the Office and 191 amnesties were granted following a request by the Office.
40. Mr Kalamanov expressed his satisfaction with what he described as closer cooperation between the Chechen government and administration and his Office. He mentioned, in particular, the work of the prosecutor’s Joint Working Group. That group was created on 26 March 2001 and includes members of the Special Representative’s Office, the Council of Europe experts, officials from the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Chechen Republic. Nine meetings have been held to date, including four sessions in Grozny attended by the Chechen Republic’s leaders and senior officials from ministries and departments, as well as representatives of the civil society.
41. Mr Kalamanov has proposed the creation of a Council for the Protection of Human Rights. He assured us that he had received the support of President Putin for the official establishment of this body by a decree. The Council would include representatives of the law-enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor’s Office, the local Chechen authorities and NGO’s (Chechen as well as other NGOs dealing with Chechnya), and could meet once a month in order to compile a list of the human rights problems in the Chechen Republic. I understand that “Memorial” (a leading Russian NGO) is among the key supporters of this project.
42. I very much encouraged this initiative and believe that it is of utmost importance that civil society, not least through NGOs, takes an active part in the work of Chechen and federal institutions.
c. Social and economic situation
43. The Federal Government has adopted a comprehensive plan for the social and economic reconstruction of the Chechen Republic. Mr Kadirov, Head of the Chechen Administration, explained that the programme provided for all areas of concern related to the reconstruction of the Republic. He told us that the displaced persons’ allowance is being paid regularly and we heard that the delay in payment of pensions would have been eliminated by the end of the year. In this context, Mr Kalamanov told the mission that his office no longer receives complaints regarding the non-payment of social benefits.
44. The Administration evidently planned to draft a list of the unemployed by the middle of December in order to pay them unemployment benefits.
45. We were told that 70% of the territory was now covered by the 1st and 2nd channels of the State TV and that the telephone network was due to be restored by the end of the year.
d. Humanitarian situation
46. The humanitarian situation in Chechnya is monitored by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography. Therefore, more detailed information will be contained in the report to be prepared by Mr Tadeusz Iwinski, Rapporteur of that Committee.
47. The mission visited the “Severny” camp for internally displaced people in Znamenskoye. The conditions in which the displaced people were living at the beginning of winter was already deeply disturbing. Tents were leaking, food was inadequate, medicine was in short supply and medical check-ups were rare. Children had insufficient clothing in which to go to school. Without exception everybody with whom we talked wanted to go home. But this still seemed to them impossible because of the state of their homes and the state of the security situation. In addition, the absence of economic prospects, and widespread unemployment, are also factors discouraging displaced people from returning home.
48. During our mission to Znamenskoye, the Head of the Chechen Administration told Mr Kalamanov that, within two months, houses in Grozny should be restored to their owners, displaced people should be resettled and the camps removed. I just hope that this was a realistic statement, which will be followed by action. But, I take this opportunity to underline that no returns should ever take place at the expense of people’s security.
49. A Letter of Understanding regarding humanitarian action in Chechnya was signed on 31 October 2001 by the Government of the Chechen Republic and representatives of the United Nations and humanitarian NGOs. This document stipulates that the government will issue passes for humanitarian workers, granting access to Chechnya and guaranteeing freedom of movement within its territory. The passes are intended to be valid for not less than three months.
50. Only a political solution to the conflict will create the essential durable conditions for ensuring full respect for human rights, for solving the problems of refugees and displaced people and for the success of economic reconstruction. In the absence of a political solution, all remedies, however important in themselves, can only bring ameliorative and temporary relief.
51. Serious human rights violations are still reported in Chechnya. According to the information which we received I consider that the slow rate of progress in the judicial proceedings against members of the federal forces suspected of crimes against civilians is still unacceptable. The lack of progress regarding the investigations into the most serious crimes, in particular the cases of alleged mass killings, is especially disturbing.
52. Substantial and convincing progress must be achieved in this field. Unless full respect for human rights is ensured in the Chechen Republic and the authors of the crimes are brought to justice the chances of Chechen people accepting a political settlement are very limited.
53. The humanitarian situation of the people affected by the conflict, in particular those living in camps, remains distressing. The Russian authorities must take immediate action. Other European countries and international humanitarian agencies must also immediately and substantially increase their humanitarian assistance to alleviate the plight of these people.
54. More convincing results are also badly needed in economic and social reconstruction. The faltering economy discourages the return of displaced people, stimulates further emigration and accentuates a dependency on assistance amongst those who stay. It provokes a breeding-ground for terrorist recruits. At the same time, the Russian authorities must introduce measures to eradicate corruption and embezzlement which are pervasive. Corruption sabotages economic recovery.
55. To conclude, I consider that the general situation in the Chechen Republic has not yet improved enough to guarantee respect for human rights and the rule of law. Where any progress has been made this is the result of positive changes of attitude amongst some in the Russian Federation regarding the way to deal with the conflict.
56. The work of the JWG and of the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and the presence of the our experts in Znamenskoye means that the Council of Europe is one of the very few international fora where progress can be monitored, criticism expressed and where politically meaningful and practical discussions on a political solution can take place.
57. The results of all this work are still limited. But I believe that even these limited results do bring at least some benefits to the people in the Chechen Republic and begin to indicate the way forward.
58. The Assembly has repeatedly stated strongly its position on the conflict in Chechnya. We are now engaged in the slow and hard task of trying to transform that position into reality. In the framework of the Council of Europe, with the Russian Federation as one of its member States, this work can only be carried out in co-operation with the Russian authorities.
59. When the Assembly decided on the enlargement of the Council of Europe it was aware that some new member States still needed time and assistance to comply fully with the Council of Europe’s standards. Only a lack of willingness on behalf of a country to admit existing problems and to accept the Council of Europe’s assistance in solving them would I believe justify sanctions as a very last resort. I am personally convinced that renewed sanctions against Russia would represent a failure by us to exert effective persuasion through co-operation and dialogue and a failure by us to assist and strengthen the work and influence of those within Russia who share our concerns and objectives. Either we believe in, and are committed to, the cause and effectiveness of political dialogue as the means for change or we are not!
60. It is only through exerting continual political pressure for positive change and through practical assistance that further improvements can take place in the Chechen Republic. But the primary responsibility to end the conflict and to build peace does not lie with the Council of Europe – it lies with the people of Russia and Chechnya.
61. I suggest that the JWG has succeeded in maintaining useful pressure on the Russian authorities and that it must now concentrate its work on facilitating and supporting the initiative for a political solution as agreed by the Chechens at the second consultation held in Strasbourg in November 2001.
Reporting committee : Political Affairs Committee
Reference to committee : Ref. No. 2470 (request for urgent procedure on 24.1.00), Res. 1201 (1999), Rec. 1444, Doc. 8631, Rec. 1456 (2000), Res. 1227 (2000), Rec. 1478 (2000), Res. 1240 (2001), Rec. 1498 (2001)
Draft resolution adopted unanimously and draft recommendation adopted with one abstention by the Committee on 10 January 2002
Members of the committee : Davis (Chairman), Jakic (Vice-Chairman) Baumel (Vice-Chairman), Toshev (Vice-Chairman), Adamia, Aliyev, Arzilli, Atkinson, Azzolini, Bakoyianni, Bársony, Behrendt, Berceanu, Bergqvist, Bianco (alternate: Manzella), Björck, Blaauw, Bühler, Cekuolis, Clerfayt, Daly, Demetriou, Diaz de Mera, Dreyfus-Schmidt (alternate: Lemoine), Durrieu, Feric-Vac, Frey, Fyfe (alternate: Lord Judd), Gjellerod, Glesener, Gligoroski, Gönül, Gross (alternate: Fehr), Henry (alternate: Goris), Hornhues, Hovhannisyan, Hrebenciuc, Irtemçelik, Ivanenko, Iwinski, Karpov, Kautto, Lord Kilclooney of Armagh, Kotsonis, Krzaklewski, Loutfi, Martinez-Casan (alternate: Puche), Medeiros Ferreira (alternate: Dias), Mignon, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Naudi Mora, Neguta, Nemcova, Ojuland, Oliynyk, Paegle, Prisacaru, Prusak, de Puig (alternate: Lopez Gonzalez), Ragnarsdottir, Ranieri, Rogozin, Schieder, Schloten, Spindelegger (alternate: Gatterer), Stepová, Surjan, Thoresen, Timmermans, Udovenko, Vakilov, Vella, Weiss, Wielowieyski, Wohlwend, Zacchera (alternate: Malgieri), Ziuganov (alternate: Slutsky).
N.B. The names of members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics
Secretaries of the committee : Mr Perin, Mrs Ruotanen, Mr Sich, Mr Adelsbach
List of participants of the
Joint Working Group on Chechnya
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
and the State Duma
THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
Lord Judd Political Affairs Committee (United Kingdom, SOC)
Rudolf BINDIG Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Germany, SOC)
Mats EINARSSON Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography (Sweden, UEL)
Lilli NABHOLZ-HAIDEGGER Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Switzerland, LDR)
Michael SPINDELEGGER Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Austria, EPP/CD)
László SURJAN Political Affairs Committee (Hungary, EPP/CD)
Lara Margret RAGNARSDOTTIR Political Affairs Committee (Iceland, EDG)
THE STATE DUMA
Dmitry ROGOZIN, Leader of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly
Chairman of the Duma’s External Relations Committee (People’s Deputies)
Valentin NIKITIN, Chair of the Duma’s Chechnya Committee, (Agro-industrial Faction)
Andrei NIKOLAEV Chair of the Duma’s Defence Committee (People’s Deputies)
Eduard VOROBIEV Deputy Chair of the Duma’s Defence Committee (Union of Right Forces)
Hapisat GAMZATOVA Member of the Russian delegation to the Assembly, member of the Duma’s Chechnya Committee (Communist Party)
Nikolai KOVALEV Member of the Russian delegation to the Assembly (Motherland - All Russia)
Ashot SARKISSIAN Member of the Duma’s Chechnya Committee (Unity),
Leonid SLUTSKY Member of the Russian delegation to the Assembly (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia)
Nickolay SHAKLEIN Member of the Russian delegation to the Assembly (Russian Regions)
Alexandr SHISHLOV Member of the Russian delegation to the Assembly (Yabloko)
Joint Working Group on Chechnya
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
and the State Duma
List of participants of the
2nd consultation on a political solution to the conflict in Chechnya
(Strasbourg, 28 - 29 November 2001)
THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
Lord JUDD, Co-Chairman
Mrs Lara Margret RAG
Source: Council of Europe.