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Situation in Chechnya Focus of Helsinki Commission Hearing

Washington – The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on the situation and future prospects in Russia’s war-torn region of Chechnya, in anticipation of upcoming talks this month between President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Chechnya: Current Situation and Prospects for the Future
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
334 Cannon House Office Building

Witnesses:

Ambassador Steven Pifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

Lord Frank Judd, Member, British House of Lords; former Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur on Chechnya

Anna Politkovskaya, Moscow journalist; recipient of 2002 OSCE Prize for Journalism and Democracy for reporting from Chechnya

Dr. Robert Bruce Ware, Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University

The Russian Government has declared the “counterterrorism operation” in Chechnya over. But the conflict in the secessionist region continues to take its toll in combatant and non-combatant deaths and disappearances.

According to the State Department’s Country Reports Human Rights Practices for 2002, “the indiscriminate use of force by government troops in the Chechen conflict has resulted in widespread civilian casualties and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of persons, the majority of whom sought refuge in the neighboring republic of Ingushetiya.”

The Russian Government continues to coerce many internally displaced persons to return to the war zone. Hundreds of Chechens have disappeared. According to the Moscow-based human rights organization, Memorial, in the first three months of this year, Russian federal forces abducted 119 people.

The United States Government has determined that some elements of the Chechen resistance are linked with international terrorism, while at the same time calling for accountability for human rights abuses committed by both sides.

Elections for President of Chechnya as part of the Russian Federation are scheduled for October 5, 2003.

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