Doc. 8697

4 April 2000

Conflict in Chechnya - Implementation by Russia of Recommendation 1444 (2000)

Report

Political Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Lord Judd, United Kingdom, Socialist Group

Summary

In Recommendation 1444 (2000) on the conflict in Chechnya adopted on 27 January 2000, the Assembly asked the Russian Federation to meet a series of requirements designed to put an end to the conflict and reinstate the rule of law and respect for human rights in Chechnya. The Assembly also decided that if Russia failed to meet these requirements, her continued membership of the Council of Europe would inevitable have to be reconsidered.

The report considers that despite certain positive measures which have been taken, Russia has still convincingly to implement Recommendation 1444 (2000). She is, in particular, required to initiate political dialogue without preconditions with Chechen representatives, seek an immediate cease-fire and allow independent inquiries into allegations concerning human rights violations and war crimes in Chechnya.

The report also calls on the Council of Europe member states to refer to the European Court of Human Rights the alleged breaches by Russia of the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols.

Should substantial, accelerating and demonstrable progress not be made by 31 May 2000, the Committee of Ministers is asked to initiate the procedure for the suspension of Russia from its rights of representation in the Council of Europe.

I.       Draft recommendation

1.       The Parliamentary Assembly recalls its positions on the conflict in Chechnya taken in Resolution 1201 (1999) of 4 November 1999 and Recommendation 1444 (2000) of 27 January 2000.

2.       In Recommendation 1444 (2000), the Assembly, while confirming its commitment to the principle of territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, asked her to meet a series of requirements designed to put an end to the conflict and reinstate the rule of law and respect for human rights in Chechnya.

3.       The Assembly also decided on that occasion that if Russia failed to meet these requirements, her continued membership of the Council of Europe would inevitably have to be reconsidered.

4.       As part of the monitoring exercise concerning the implementation of Recommendation 1444 (2000), an Ad Hoc Committee of the Assembly went to Moscow and the northern Caucasus (Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Chechnya) between 9 and 13 March 2000.

5.       The Assembly takes note of certain positive measures which Russia has taken in keeping with Recommendation 1444 (2000), such as:

i.       appointing Mr Vladimir Kalamanov Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Securing Human and Citizens’ Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic;

ii.       setting up a State Duma Commission on the Normalisation of Political, Social and Economic Situation and Protection of Human Rights in the Chechen Republic;

iii.       extending the period of amnesty until 15 May 2000 concerning “persons who committed socially dangerous acts” in the North Caucasus during the conflict;

iv.       revoking as illegal the order to prevent Chechens of male sex aged between 10 and 60 from crossing the administrative border of the Chechen Republic;

v.       agreeing in principle to accept consultative expertise for Mr Kalamanov’s office in the form of Council of Europe expert staff ;

vi.       agreeing to organise two regional seminars under the auspices of the Council of Europe - one on federalism to be held in Pyatigorsk (Stavropol region) on 27-28 April and another on the role of democratic institutions in restoring democracy and ensuring human rights to be held in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia) on 29 and 30 May 2000, which should be attended by representatives of the Russian Federation, the northern Caucasus republics of the Russian Federation, including Chechnya, the neighbouring Russian regions and non-governmental organisations;

vii.       concluding a working memorandum with the United Nations Secretary General on procedures governing humanitarian assistance in the region;

viii.       reaching an agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on its operation in the Chechen Republic and on ICRC representatives access to temporary detention centres;

ix.       accepting a number of visits by representatives of international organisations to the North Caucasus region.

6.       Russia has not yet, however, responded to the two key political demands made by the Assembly, namely the introduction of an immediate and complete cease-fire and the initiation of a political dialogue without preconditions with the elected Chechen authorities.

7.       With regard to the request that Russia strictly respects the fundamental human rights of the civilian population in the territories under the control of the Russian authorities, only declarations of intent have so far been made. The Assembly has taken note of the replies given by the Russian Foreign Minister to the requests by the Secretary General for explanations under Art 52 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It regrets that, so far, these replies have not been satisfactory.

8.       The Assembly reiterates that Russia has violated some of its most important obligations under both the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular Article 2 (Right to life) and international humanitarian law, as well as the undertakings she gave on joining the Council of Europe.

9.       While recognising that human rights violations have been, and are still, perpetrated by both sides in the conflict, the Assembly considers that membership of the Council of Europe requires a commitment to a higher order of conduct. The Assembly cannot accept that a member state’s failure to comply with the Organisation’s standards is justified by the behaviour of its adversaries.

10.       The Assembly therefore considers that Russia has still convincingly to implement the requirements set out in Recommendation 1444 (2000) and that her failure to act results in the continued loss of life and disproportionate suffering as well as human rights violations in Chechnya.

11.       The Assembly recalls that despite the progress she still had to make, when Russia joined the Council of Europe she was considered as capable of pursuing and willing to pursue, within and with the help of the Council of Europe, democratic reforms designed to bring her legislation and practice into line with Council of Europe principles and standards.

12.       The Assembly underlines that the Council of Europe has political and legal instruments to help ensure that Russia honours her undertakings with regard to human rights in Chechnya. It believes, in particular, that the European Convention on Human Rights and the protection machinery for which it provides should be fully utilised.

13.       Where substantial grounds for concern exist, the Assembly urgently calls for the Council of Europe member states, as high contracting parties to the Convention, to use Article 33 and refer to the European Court of Human Rights alleged breaches by Russia of the provisions of the convention and its protocols.

14.       Action taken within the Council of Europe can, however, bear fruit only if Russia reaffirms, through her deeds, her willingness to respect Council of Europe principles. The Assembly therefore requires Russia to take the following specific measures without delay:

i.       initiate political dialogue without preconditions or prior restrictions with a cross-section of representatives of the Chechen people, including representatives of the elected Chechen authorities committed to renounce terrorism and violence ;

ii.       recognising the need for commitment from both sides, seek an immediate cease-fire;

iii.       allow independent enquiries into allegations concerning human rights violations and war crimes in Chechnya.

15.       The Assembly also urges Russia

i.       to ensure access by all detainees in the region to independent legal assistance;

ii.       as soon as it is completed, to publish in full the report in preparation by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment following a visit by a delegation of the Committee to the detention centres in Chechnya, North Ossetia and the region of Stavropol in March 2000 ; meanwhile, to submit within three months as requested by the Committee an account of the steps taken to meet its observations released by the Russian authorities on 4 March 2000;

16.       The Assembly believes that the Parliament of the Russian Federation, as well as the newly formed Commission of the State Duma on the Normalisation of Political, Social and Economic Situation and Protection of Human Rights in the Chechen Republic can play an important role in ensuring the earliest implementation by Russia of the present Recommendation and emphasises the necessity to continue to inter-act fully with the parliamentary delegation of the Russian Federation.

17.       The Assembly takes note of the action by the Committee of Ministers and its Chair in response to Recommendation 1444 (2000) and of that by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Gil-Robles. The Assembly also takes note of the declaration passed by the Political Affairs Committee on 7 March 2000 expressing its concern about the lack of action by the Committee of Ministers on the proposals of the Parliamentary Assembly with regard to the conflict in Chechnya.

18.       It recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       continue and intensify action to implement Recommendation 1444 (2000) and, in particular:

ii. should substantial, accelerating and demonstrable progress not be made by 31 May 2000 in respect of the requirements set out in paragraph 14, initiate without delay, in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute, the procedure for the suspension of Russia from its rights of representation in the Council of Europe;

iii. report to the Parliamentary Assembly in June either on the progress which has in its view made action in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute no longer appropriate, or on the action which has been taken in accordance with that Article;

iv. report to the Assembly in June on the action which has been taken in relation to Article 33 of the European Convention on Human Rights as called for in paragraph 13 above;

v.       instruct its Chairman-in-Office and the Secretary General to go to Moscow as soon as possible to request that the Russian authorities implement immediately the above recommendations.

II.       Explanatory memorandum, by the Rapporteur

1.       Introduction

1.       In its Recommendation 1444 (2000) adopted on 27 January 2000, the Parliamentary Assembly called on the Russian Federation to comply with a series of demands enumerated in paragraph 16 of the text (see Appendix 1).

2.       The Assembly called in particular for an immediate cease-fire and for a political dialogue, without pre-conditions, to be opened with the Chechen authorities, for all those who wished to leave Chechnya to be allowed to do so, for there to be no forced repatriation to Chechnya, for human rights to be respected in the territories under its control, for humanitarian aid to be allowed unhindered access and for humanitarian organisations to be able to operate effectively, for the media to be allowed free access to the region, for consideration to be given to ways in which international organisations might contribute to the political solution of the conflict and for a regional dialogue to be initiated.

3.       The Assembly also decided to monitor compliance with these demands closely, emphasising that failure to comply with them would inevitably mean that, at the April 2000 part-session, Russia’s continued membership of the Council of Europe in general and its participation in the work of the Assembly would have to be reviewed.

4.       The Assembly accordingly asked the Political Affairs Committee, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Monitoring Committee to arrange a further visit before the April part-session and to report back to it on compliance with the Assembly’s demands.

5.       The Bureau of the Assembly, meeting on 28 January 2000, agreed to set up an Ad Hoc Committee made up of members of the above-mentioned committees to carry out both the tasks listed in Recommendation 1444 (2000) and the terms of reference of the former Ad Hoc Committee on Chechnya.

6.       The Bureau also requested the President and the Secretary General of the Assembly to consult the Chairs of these four committees in order to ensure that the new Ad Hoc Committee was politically and regionally balanced. Following these consultations, the Ad Hoc Committee was constituted as shown in Appendix 2. On a proposal by the Bureau of the Assembly, I was elected Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee and Mr Bindig was elected Vice-Chair.

7.       The Ad hoc Committee visited Moscow and the North Caucasus (Dagestan, North Ossetia and Ingushetia) from 9 to 13 March 2000 (the programme can be found in Appendix 3 and the press release issued at the end of the visit in Appendix 4). In authorising this visit, the Bureau underlined that the programme must be such as to enable the Ad Hoc Committee to carry out its mission to the full, and that this meant in particular visiting Grozny and the temporary detention centres.

8.       Within the constraints of a conflict situation and the consequent security arrangements, the Ad hoc Committee’s requests concerning the programme for the visit to the region were largely met.The intervention of Mr Ivanov, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation helped in this respect. I would like to thank the Russian government and authorities for organising the visit, and in particular the Russian parliament for formally inviting the Ad Hoc committee to the Russian Federation and arranging a large part of the programme.

9.       I should also thank Mr David Donoghue, the Irish Ambassador to the Russian Federation, who, in his capacity as representative of the Chairman-in-office of the Committee of Ministers, arranged a meeting with the Ambassadors, or their representatives, of Council of Europe member states in Moscow.

10.       In preparing this report, the Political Affairs Committee invited members of the Chechen parliament to its meeting in Paris on 7 March 2000 to hear the debate on the conflict in Chechnya. Two Chechen parliamentarians took the floor in the debate and answered questions put by members of the committee.

11.       I have taken note of a “Memorandum of the Russian parliamentary delegation concerning the implementation of Recommendation 1444 (2000)”, which was transmitted by Mr Rogozin, Head of the newly appointed Russian delegation, to Lord Russell-Johnston, President of the Assembly. The text has been distributed as an Assembly Document 8686. It testifies to the serious and constructive approach of Russian parliamentarians towards the work of the Assembly.

12.       As the purpose of this report is to evaluate whether or not Russia has complied with the Assembly’s demands in Recommendation 1444 (2000), I will not discuss more general aspects of the conflict or its causes. These matters were addressed in my previous report to the Assembly last January (Doc. 8630).

13.       Certain aspects of the conflict concerning human rights and displaced people will be discussed in detail by the rapporteurs of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

2.       The Russian authorities’ position of principle

14.       The Russian authorities’ position of principle regarding the conflict has not changed. They treat it as an anti-terrorist operation in conformity with the Constitution and the law of the Russian Federation and aimed at preserving Russia’s territorial integrity and restoring the rule of law in Chechnya, a republic of the Russian Federation where, they argue, effective government is absent and criminal elements prevail. Indeed, the Russian authorities assert that Chechnya has become the “centre of international terrorism”, and is thus a threat to Russia’s national security as well as potential threat to the security of other parts of Europe. The large-scale use of the Russian armed forces is, in their view, justified by the quantities and nature of weaponry in the hands of the Chechen fighters.

3.       The Parliamentary Assembly’s position of principle

15.       The Parliamentary Assembly has repeatedly acknowledged, most recently in Recommendation 1444 (2000), paragraph 5, “the right of Russia to preserve its territorial integrity, to fight terrorism and crime and to protect its population, including the population of Chechnya and neighbouring republics and regions, from terrorist attacks and acts of banditism”. The Assembly also strongly condemned “all acts of terrorism, kidnappings, public executions and human rights violations committed in Chechnya”.

16.       What the Assembly is most concerned about, however, remains the the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against the civilian population, the need for compliance with international humanitarian law and the importance of stopping human rights violations in the territories controlled by the Russian authorities (currently most of Chechnya).

17.       While accepting that such violations have been, and are still, perpetrated by both sides in the conflict, the Assembly cannot accept that a member state’s failure to comply with the Council of Europe’s standards is justified by the behaviour of its adversaries. Membership of the Council of Europe requires a commitment to a higher order of conduct which must be evident at all times, whatever the provocation. It is obvious that every time Russia fails to ensure such conduct this plays into the hands of extremists, alienating the Chechen population still further.

4.       Results of the Ad hoc Committee’s visit (9-13 March 2000) in the context of the evaluation of Russia’s compliance with Recommendation 1444 (2000)

a.       Current state of the hostilities, cease-fire

18.       The Ad Hoc Committee was deeply moved by its visit to Grozny. The centre of the city has been totally and systematically destroyed. We did not see a single building intact. At the present time it has been estimated that some 15 000 inhabitants have remained in Grozny (out of a population of some 400 000 in 1991). In the centre of the city it has been estimated that there are only some 1 000 to 1 500 people left, and they are living in conditions of total privation. The Russian authorities have declared Grozny a “closed city” until 1 May 2000.

19.       Although the city had already suffered damage in the earlier conflict in Chechnya, the current level of destruction suggests that Grozny has been the target of indiscriminate, disproportionate bombardment by the Russian forces. The state of the city and the accounts given by people from Grozny in refugee camps in Ingushetia clearly indicate that many civilians perished in the bombardment. Only a thorough enquiry will be able to determine the exact number of victims.

20.       The Russian authorities at present claim to have control over the vast majority of the territory of Chechnya: however, military operations continue in the mountains in the south of the Republic. The media have put the number of Chechen combatants at approximately 3 000. The Russian forces have captured a leader of the Chechen fighters, Mr S. Raduyev, who has been taken to Moscow for trial.

21.       This fighting still causes significant loss of life among civilians and military personnel alike. There is no evidence that the belligerents have changed their way of conducting the military operations. Mr Maskhadov has called for a guerrilla war against the Russian forces, and attacks on Russian military targets are increasing in the territories formally controlled by the Russians.

22.       An immediate end to the hostilities, as called for by the Assembly last January, remains an imperative. The Russian authorities claim that a unilateral cease-fire is impossible, as the Chechen fighters would use it to strengthen their position and re-open hostilities. If this prediction is valid it emphasises why the establishment of a cease-fire, observed by both sides, cannot be dissociated from the negotiations which the Russian authorities must start immediately with the Chechens.

b.       Political dialogue with the Chechen representatives

23.       Last January the Assembly called on Russia “to start immediately a political dialogue, without pre-conditions, with the elected Chechen authorities, with the objective of securing a complete cease-fire and achieving a comprehensive political solution to the conflict”.

24.       During the Ad hoc Committee’s visit, the Russian authorities maintained that there would be no negotiations with “terrorists”. If there were to be dialogue, it could only be with those who recognised Russia’s territorial integrity and respected the Constitution. In this connection it should be noted that the Principal State Counsel of the Russian Federation has accused Mr Maskhadov of “rebellion” and his name has been put on the list of wanted criminals.

25.       The whole concept of dialogue has been questioned by the Russian authorities, who claim that the Chechen side is incapable of guaranteeing compliance with any agreement reached.

26.       Nevertheless, in the cause of both an end to hostilities and a lasting solution to the conflict, it remains my firm conviction that a dialogue is essential. Willingness to engage in such dialogue with the Chechen representatives would, for me, be the most convincing sign of a change in Russia’s policy towards Chechnya.

27.       The Russian Government should therefore, without delay, offer to begin such a dialogue with Chechen representatives. This dialogue should be without pre-conditions concerning either the political objectives of those representatives or their participation in the fighting. History has demonstrated again and again that in situations like that in Chechnya, viable negotiated settlements require the participation of a meaningful cross section of those involved in the conflict. Negotiations are destined to failure without this.

28.       This dialogue must include Chechen elected representatives and Chechens with “de facto” influence in Chechnya. It could also include the provisional administration and religious leaders.

29.       The first objective of the negotiations has to be the cessation of hostilities. Thereafter, the discussions could cover the establishment of local administrative structures designed to secure the confidence of the Chechen population and the support of the Russian authorities. Only with structures of this kind will it be possible to bring economic and social life back to normal, to enable displaced people to return and to mobilise the fight against crime and terrorism.

30.       In an interview in Grozny on 20 March, Mr Putin, then the Acting President of the Russian Federation, said he was ready to begin political negotiations “even with the Chechen fighters in the mountains”. That is good news. I hope that substantial proposals will result from this encouraging statement.

c.       Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms

31.       The day after its return from the region, the Ad Hoc Committee declared that it believed that “serious human rights violations and war crimes have taken place in Chechnya on both sides”. Human rights organisations had already reported such violations earlier, and the delegation met their representatives in Moscow. What we heard from refugees themselves in the camps in Ingushetia reinforced these reports and led to our conclusion.

32.       The most serious allegations about violations by the Russian forces fall into the following categories:

-       disproportionate, indiscriminate bombing of the civilian population (the most striking example being the destruction of Grozny);

-       excesses committed against the civilian population during military operations, including summary executions;

-       arbitrary detention of Chechens and their maltreatment, including torture, in the temporary detention centres;

-       daily violations of human rights, including murders (during the visit to the village of Argun, the inhabitants described how Russian soldiers, who were probably drunk, murdered a 15-year old boy who had not respected the curfew).

33.       The Ad Hoc Committee visited the Chernokosovo temporary detention centre, which NGOs have described as the place where the worst excesses, including torture, took place. During its visit, the Ad Hoc Committee was unable to investigate these allegations. The value of any such brief visit, which had to be prepared in advance, is obviously limited. The part of the centre which we visited was spotlessly clean; new staff had just arrived; while we were able to select the cells we wanted opened, we were unable to talk to the prisoners without witnesses. However, we did learn that, with one exception, the prisoners to whom we talked had had no access to a lawyer. Following the visit to the centre the Ad Hoc Committee insisted on visiting a local police station where detainees were held. We discovered that we were not the first delegation to have visited it. Conditions were more spartan than at the centre; otherwise our impressions were similar. Again, nobody had had access to a lawyer. At both the centre and the prison it was noticeable that some detainees remained silent.

34.       The Russian authorities have declared their readiness to investigate the crimes and human rights violations committed in Chechnya. State Counsel have been sent to the region for this purpose. It has been announced in the press that the State Counsel’s Office in Grozny is investigating the reported massacre on 5 February – allegedly perpetrated by Russian soldiers – of more than 60 civilians in Aldi, a southern district of Grozny.

35.       Mr Kalamanov has been appointed the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for human rights and freedoms in Chechnya. At the time of our visit, he was setting up his Administration, which would be an appropriate body to co-operate with any Council of Europe representatives (see below).

36.       I hope these arrangements will produce measurable, substantial results. Nevertheless the gravity of the situation means that it is vital that the credibility of the Russian authorities’ action be strengthened both by an independent Russian parliamentary initiative and by international observers.

37.       I therefore propose:

i.       that the State Duma Commission on Human Rights, Displaced Persons and the Normalisation of Social, Political and Economic Situation in the Chechen Republic, set up at the end of March, be given the responsibility for inquiring into human rights violations in Chechnya and monitoring the investigations being carried out by civil and military authorities; members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe might be associated with some of the committee’s work;

ii.       that the Russian authorities formally accept the Council of Europe’s presence in the region on the conditions set out below;

iii.       that as High Contracting Parties to the European Convention on Human Rights the Committee of Ministers ensures that substantial allegations of breaches to the Convention and its Protocols (Article 33 of the European Convention on Human Rights) are referred to the European Court of Human Rights;

iv.       that all prisoners, including those arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, be afforded access to professional legal advice.

d.       Situation of displaced people

38.       At present the problem of unimpeded departure from the combat zones is less widespread, given the advances made by the Russian forces. Greater concerns are access by displaced persons to humanitarian aid and repatriations.

39.       Since January the number of displaced Chechens in Ingushetia, estimated to be some 20 000, has evidently not fallen. The people we met in the refugee camps said they wanted to return to Chechnya, but not straight away, as they feared for their safety. It is clear that the reported human rights violations by the Russian forces have created a climate which discourages return.

40.       Displaced people also complain of a fall in humanitarian aid. Some people claim that the fall is a disguised way of pushing people to go back.

41.       Another problem is the fact that many of the displaced people, and many among the population still in Chechnya, do not have valid identity papers. This means, in practice, that they cannot travel, and if they do, that they run the risk of being detained by the police or the army. Detention in order to check identity can, under the anti-terrorist legislation, last for up to two months! This is an obvious source of abuse which must be speedily remedied.

42.       The international humanitarian organisations have welcomed the conclusion of a working memorandum between the Russian government and the United Nations Secretary General on procedures governing humanitarian assistance in the region. Humanitarian organisations explain that they are not for the time being active in Chechnya itself, because of their concern for the safety of their personnel rather than because of administrative obstacles on the Russian side. An international humanitarian aid convoy has reached Grozny, but it is the Ministry for Emergency Situations which looks after humanitarian aid and its distribution in Chechnya: this includes meals and basic medical care.

43.       As regards the working conditions of the NGOs, they can operate without too much difficulty in Ingushetia, but they are apparently unwelcome in Chechnya. Despite this, some still manage to make visits.

e.       Freedom of the media

44.       The Ad Hoc Committee held a useful meeting with a cross section of the media working in the Russian Federation. As far as covering the conflict in Chechnya is concerned, we were told that all who applied for accreditation have been given it, although in some cases, only after long delays. At present several hundred journalists are accredited to cover the conflict.

45.       The journalists see two main obstacles to their work:

-       the prohibition on free entry to Chechnya; the only way to go there is with organised trips for groups of journalists.

-       the ban on contacts with the Chechen fighters, as such contacts contravene Russia’s anti-terrorist legislation.

46.       In my view, Russian authorities ought to allow journalists free access to those regions of Chechnya which are not immediately adjacent to the combat zones. It has to be recognised that elsewhere in the world access to combat zones is also usually restricted.

47.       Individual violations of the human rights of journalists have apparently occurred. Detention and the treatment inflicted on Mr Babitski, whom the delegation met in Moscow, are given as examples.

f.       Co-operation and dialogue with the Council of Europe

i.       Council of Europe presence in the region

48.       During the Parliamentary Assembly’s visit, under the leadership of its President, to Moscow and the North Caucasus last January, Mr Putin, then the Acting President, undertook to authorise a Council of Europe presence in the region. This initiative was pursued by Mr Gil-Robles, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, during his visit to Russia from 24 to 28 February last.

49.       During the Ad hoc Committee’s visit, the Russian authorities confirmed their readiness to accept Council of Europe representatives who would work with the Office of Mr Kalamanov, the Special Representative for human rights and freedoms in Chechnya of the Acting President of the Russian Federation.

50.       On 22 March 2000, the Committee of Ministers decided to provide consultative expertise for Mr Kalamanov’s office in the form of Council of Europe expert staff. On 30 March, the Secretary General was instructed to proceed forthwith with an exchange of letters with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in order to implement the provision by the Council of Europe of such consultative support (see the Secretary General’s letter of 30 March in Appendix 5).

51.       Even though such “consultative expertise” falls short of the Council of Europe’s presence requested by the Assembly, I very much welcome its acceptance in principle. Nevertheless, I stress that the Council of Europe expert staff must have a specific status and must be directly answerable to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. For his part, the Secretary General must be able to report freely to the Committee of Ministers and to the Parliamentary Assembly on the activities and findings of the expert staff.

52.       Failure by the Russian authorities to accept these conditions could only be interpreted as a rejection of a Council of Europe presence in the region.

ii.       Organisation of seminars in the region

53.       The Foreign Minister confirmed the willingness of the Russian authorities to organise a conference on “the role of democratic institutions in the creation of a state based on the rule of law and respect for human rights”. He proposed that it be held in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia) on 29 and 30 May 2000, with the participation of representatives of the Russian authorities, the Council of Europe, the seven Russian Federation Republics of the North Caucasus (including Chechnya), the regions of Krasnodar and Stavropol and NGOs. Another seminar under the Council of Europe’s auspices, in the field of federalism, is also currently in preparation and should take place in Pyatigorsk (Krasnodar region) on 27-28 April 2000.

54.       I believe that such an initiative could be very useful, provided the debates are frank and open and that the Chechens are as widely represented as possible, and not just by those who support the policy of the Russian authorities. It will be interesting to see what happens

5.       Conclusions

55.       I conclude by repeating the words of Recommendation 1444 (2000) to the effect that “Russia is (…) found to be violating some of her most important obligations under both the European Convention on Human Rights and international humanitarian law, as well as the commitments she entered into upon accession to the Council of Europe”.

56.       The Russian authorities are not insensitive to international criticism.. While maintaining their argument about the correctness of their policy, there are indications that they recognise the need to meet the legitimate concerns of the international community. A special representative for human rights in Chechnya has been appointed, State Counsel have been sent to the region to investigate human rights violations, a Council of Europe presence in the region has been accepted in principle, preparations seem to be in hand for a regional conference, and efforts are being made to provide humanitarian aid in co-operation with international humanitarian organisations.

57.       All these declarations of intent must now rapidly be transformed into practical action and measurable results, not least the wellbeing of detainees and their access to legal advice. The special parliamentary Committee, now established should move quickly into action with the responsibilities detailed in paragraph 37 above. However, it is even more important to have evidence that the Russian authorities are working for a political solution of the conflict based on the cessation of hostilities and dialogue with Chechen representatives without prior conditions or restrictions. The immediate opening of such a dialogue is essential to put an end to the loss of lives and to the alienation of the people of Chechnya. Violence and intransigence merely strengthen the extremist elements on the Chechen side and seriously complicate the prospects for reconciliation.

58.       The case for Russian membership of the Council of Europe was argued as a means of reinforcing the rule of law and respect for human rights in that country and of encouraging her to play a positive role in the process of European development and the management of world affairs. These were important objectives at a time when so much attention was being given to the expansion of both NATO and the European Union. Europe and the world community badly need a strong, democratic and free Russia playing a leading part in their affairs.

59.       When she joined, Russia still had a good deal of progress to make to fulfil the obligations of membership in spirit as well as letter. However, the decision to admit her as a member was based on the expectation that she was capable of pursuing, and had the will to pursue, the democratic reforms she had initiated to bring her law and practice into conformity with the principles and standards of the Council of Europe.

60.       The role of the Council is not to denounce and condemn, but rather to assist, provided there is a real will to accept such assistance. It is arguable that condemnation combined with sanctions could play into the hands of reactionary forces in Russia which would resort to xenophobia and welcome freedom from the constraints inherent in membership of a human rights organisation.

61.       The greatest challenge to the Council of Europe is therefore to use all its instruments – Committee of Ministers, Parliamentary Assembly, and European Court of Human Rights – to assist Russia to reaffirm and to respect her commitments to human rights. This policy can only succeed, however, if Russia herself proves that she wants to respect the principles for which the Council of Europe stands and if she takes tangible action which testifies to such determination.

62.       Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe states that “Any member of the Council of Europe which has seriously violated Article 3 (recognition of the principles of the rule of law and of enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms) may be suspended from its rights of representation and requested by the Committee of Ministers to withdraw.”

63.       Frankly, evidence of any substantial change in the action of the Russian authorities in Chechnya since January is still scarce. Those arrangements which we are told have been put in place to address the situation and those relevant public appointments which have been made still have to produce substantial results. I fervently hope that they will. The election of President Putin could give them a powerful thrust. My personal desire to see Russia at the centre of European world politics is undiminished. However, membership of the Council of Europe is about human rights or it is about nothing. It is therefore my conclusion that, should there be no significant, accelerating and meaningful progress on the issues spelt out in this report by 31 May 2000, the Parliamentary Assembly has no option but to require the Committee of Ministers to report to the Parliamentary Assembly in June on the steps it has taken, in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, to suspend the Russian Federation from its rights of representation and to insist on her withdrawal. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Assembly should now request the Committee of Ministers to report to it in June on the action taken to ensure that serious allegations of breaches of the Convention on Human Rights and its Protocol have meanwhile been referred to the European Court of Human Rights. Anything less than this would be to undermine the very purpose and fabric of the Council.

Reporting Committee: Political Affairs Committee

Reference to Committee: Reference No 2470, Rec. 1444 (2000), Doc 8631

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none

Draft Recommendation adopted by the Committee on 4 Avril 2000 with 25 votes in favour, 4 votes against and 4 abstentions.

Members of the Committee: Mr Davis (Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairman), MM Arzilli, Atkinson, Bársony, Behrendt, Bergqvist, Björck, Blaauw (alternate: Mr van der Linden), Bühler (alternate: Mr Hornues), Clerfayt, Daly, Demetriou, Derycke, Dokle, Dreyfus-Schmidt (alternate: Mr Baumel, Vice-Chairmant), Mrs Durrieu, Mr Frey (alternate: Mrs Fehr), Mrs Fyfe (alternate: Mr Rapson), MM. Gjellerod, Glesener, Gligoroski, Gross, Gül, Iwinski, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Krzaklewski (alternate: Mr Adamczyk), Kuzmickas, Lopez Henares, Lupu (alternate: Mr Kelemen), Maginas, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Micheloyiannis, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Nedelciuc, Mrs Nemkova, MM. Neuwirth, Oliynyk, Pahor (alternate: Mr Jakic), Palmitjavila Ribo, Prusak, de Puig, Mrs Pusic, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM Rogozin, Saakashvili, Schieder, Schlotten, Selva, Sinka, Spindelegger, Mrs Squarcialupi, Mrs Stanoiu, Mrs Stepová, MM Surjan, Thoresen, Timmermans, Vella, Volcic, Weiss, Zuiganov (alternate: Mr Zhirinovsky), N…….. (alternate: Mr Manchulenko).

N.B. The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics

Secretaries of the Committee : Mr Perin, Mrs Ruotanen, Mr Sich, Mrs Hügel

APPENDIX I

Recommendation 1444 (2000)1

The conflict in Chechnya

1. The Assembly recalls its Resolution 1201 (1999) of 4 November 1999 on the conflict in Chechnya calling on the Russian Federation to avoid military raids against the civil population, to introduce a cease-fire and to start a peaceful dialogue with the elected Chechen authorities, as well as requesting that persons guilty of terrorist acts, human rights violations and abductions be prosecuted and all hostages be immediately liberated.

2. It also recalls the declaration of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Bureau on the situation in Chechnya of 13 December 1999 according to which "persistence in violations could lead the Parliamentary Assembly to put under question Russian participation in the Assembly’s work and in the Council of Europe in general" and takes note of the findings of its delegation during its recent visit to Moscow, Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia (16-20 January 2000).

3. Upon admission in 1996, the Russian Federation committed itself to settle internal as well as international disputes by peaceful means and to respect strictly the provisions of international humanitarian law, including cases of armed conflict on its territory.

4. As a member of the Council of Europe, the Russian Federation is obliged to ensure respect of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the rule of law and democratic principles on the whole of its territory, including Chechnya.

5. The Assembly recognises the right of the Russian Federation to preserve its territorial integrity, to fight terrorism and crime and to protect its population, including the population of Chechnya and neighbouring republics and regions, from terrorist attacks and acts of banditism. The Assembly confirms its strong condemnation of all acts of terrorism, kidnappings, public executions and human rights violations committed in Chechnya.

6. Nevertheless, it stresses that the means used to achieve such goals must be in accordance with the international commitments of the Russian Federation and must exclude, in particular, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force affecting the civilian population.

7. The Assembly condemns, as totally unacceptable, the current conduct of military operations in Chechnya with its tragic consequences for large numbers of the civil population of this republic. As a result of this indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force, innocent non-combatants in Chechnya are suffering most serious violations of such fundamental human rights as the right to life, the right to liberty and the right to security.

8. The Russian Federation is thus found to be violating some of her most important obligations under both the European Convention on Human Rights and international humanitarian law, as well as the commitments she entered into upon accession to the Council of Europe.

9. The Assembly considers that the military operations of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya violate the rule of law, since the scale of these operations is not covered by the law on the fight against organised crime; as no emergency situation has been declared, these operations are arbitrary and not regulated by law.

10. The Assembly regrets that during the period 1996 to1999 the Chechen leadership was unable to ensure the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights and individual freedoms in Chechnya.

11. The Assembly demands that the Chechen side introduce an immediate and complete cease-fire and urges the Chechen elected representatives to ensure the release of all hostages, to stop all acts of terrorism and violence emanating from the Chechen side and to bring to justice the authors of these acts, as well as to ensure the respect of democratic standards on the territories under their control.

12. The Assembly reiterates its support for all efforts aimed at restoring the rule of law and respect for democratic principles in Chechnya as well as the social and economic structures of this republic, as long as they are in accordance with internationally accepted norms and standards.

13. The Assembly recognises the deep-rooted historical origins of the conflict and is convinced that a lasting and viable solution can only be based on the rejection of violence and the consent of both a convincing majority of the people and all the key parties to the conflict.

14. The Assembly notes with some satisfaction that the acting President of the Russian Federation, Mr Vladimir Putin, has accepted the proposal for a Council of Europe presence in the region. Its objective should be to monitor, in co-operation with the Russian authorities, the human rights and the humanitarian situation and to make proposals in this regard.

15. It also welcomes the willingness of the Russian Federation to co-operate with the Council of Europe in the solution of this conflict and to take into consideration the proposals of the Organisation in this regard.

16. The Assembly calls on the Russian Federation:

17. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

18. The Assembly resolves to monitor closely respect for the requirements set out in paragraph 16 of this recommendation, at the same time emphasising that failure to meet them will inevitably necessitate, at the Assembly’s April 2000 part-session, a review of Russian continued membership of, and participation in, the Assembly’s work and in the Council of Europe in general. The Assembly therefore calls upon the Political Affairs Committee, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Monitoring Committee to make arrangements for the rapporteurs to revisit the region before the April Assembly’s part-session in order to report on whether such a review is necessary.

_________________________

1. Assembly debate on 27 January 2000 (6th and 7th Sittings) (see Doc. 8630, report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Lord Judd; Doc. 8631, opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mr Bindig; and Doc. 8632, opinion of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, rapporteur: Mr Iwinski).

Text adopted by the Assembly on 27 January 2000 (7th Sitting).

APPENDIX II

Ad Hoc Committee of the Bureau

on the follow-up to Recommendation 1444 (2000)

Political Affairs Committee

Lord        JUDD, rapporteur       SOC       United Kingdom

Mrs       Lára Margrét RAGNARSDÓTTIR       EDG       Iceland

Mrs        Hanne SEVERINSEN       LDR       Denmark

Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

Mr        Rudolf BINDIG, rapporteur       SOC       Germany

Mrs       Anneli JÄÄTTEENMÄKI       LDR       Finland

Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography

Mr       Doros CHRISTODOULIDES       UEL       Cyprus

Mr       Tadeusz IWINSKI, rapporteur       SOC       Poland

“Monitoring” Committee

[Mr       Rudolf BINDIG, rapporteur       SOC       Germany]

Mr       Reginald MOREELS       EPP       Belgium

Mr       Juris SINKA       EDG       Latvia

APPENDIX III

PROGRAMME OF THE VISIT OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE

TO THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

(Moscow, North Caucasus, 8-13 March 2000)

Wednesday 8 March 2000

Thursday 9 March 2000

9h15       Meeting with Mr Seleznev, Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

10h20       Meeting with Mr Platanov, Vice-Chairman of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and President of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria

11h45       Meeting with Mr Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs

16h30       Meeting with General Ivashov, Ministry of Defence

18h00       Meeting with Mr Chaika, Minister of Justice

19h00       Meeting with the Ambassadors of the Council of Europe member countries at the Irish Embassy

Friday 10 March 2000

8h30       Meeting with Mr Blokhin, Minister for Affairs of the Federation and of the Nationalities

9h00       Meeting with Mr Shoigu, Minister for Emergency Situations

10h30       Meeting with Mr Kalamanov, the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Human Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic

13h00       Meeting with Mr Yastrzhembskyi, Special assistant of the President of the Russian Federation

14h15-16h30       Meetings with members of the new Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly

15h30-16h30       Meeting with Mr Babitsky

16h30-17h30       Meeting with international organisations

17h30-19h00       Meeting with non-governmental organisations

19h00       Meeting with journalists

Saturday 11 March 2000

7h00       Departure for Makhachkala (Dagestan)

11h00       Meeting with Mr Magomadov, President of Dagestan

13h00       Visit to a hospital in Irgun

15h00       Visit to Grozny

17h00       Visit to Cernokosovo detention centre and the police station in Naurskaya

20h00       Meeting with Mr Dzasokhov, President of North Ossetia

Sunday 12 March 2000

10h00-12h00       Visit to refugee camps in Ingushetia (Severnaja)

13h00       Meeting with Mr Aushev, President of Ingushetia

15h00       Departure for Moscow

APPENDIX IV

PRESS RELEASE

Findings of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly mission to Moscow and North Caucasus

MOSCOW, 13.03.2000 – "It is beyong comprehension that at the beginning of the 21st century, a European city like Grozny could be systematically destroyed by the forces of its own government", said Lord JUDD, Leader of the COUNCIL OF EUROPE Parliamentary Assembly delegation at the end of their fact-finding mission to Moscow and the North Caucasus from 9 to 12 March.

The objective of the mission was to monitor progress made by the Russian authorities on the requirements voted by the Parliamentary Assembly as its January 2000 session.

The delegation was deeply disturbed by the distress and the trauma suffered by civilians as a result of indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the Russian military.

The delegation calls for an immediate cease-fire to be respected by both sides and for arrangements to be made to guarantee the secure and free access of humanitarian agencies to the area.

At the same time the delegation calls on the Russian governement, without any further delay, to begin negotiations on a political solution to the conflict with the elected Chechen representatives and other influential Chechens. These discussions could also involve the provisional Chechen administration. The delegation firmly supports the proposal for a Regional Conference on the North Caucasus with the participation of representatives chosen by the Chechens.

The delegation believes that serious human rights violations and war crimes have taken place in Chechnya on both sides. Eyewitnesses gave accounts of arbitrary killings and harassment by Russian forces, as well as unacceptable acts of violence by Chechen fighters, the implementation of the Sharia Law and hostage taking.

The delegation therefore calls on the Russian authorities to intensify investigation of all alleged violations in co-operation with international representatives. The delegation also urges the Russian parliament to set up without delay a special committee to investigate these crimes. It further underlines the importance of access by all prisoners to legal advice and calls for the release of all hostages.

The members of the delegation are concerned about the humanitarian plight of the civil population of Chechnya both inside and outside its borders. They call on the Russian authorities supported by the international community to increase and expedite assistance to the refugees and local supporting communities. The delegation re-emphasises that no direct or indirect pressure should be put on displaced people to return to Chechnya.

The delegation will report to the Parliamentary Assembly's April session. Meanwhile all the requirements of the Assembly remain on the table. However, it is the firm conviction of the delegation that the greatest challenge to the Council of Europe and the international community is to mobilise their resources in striving to ensure that the statements of intent and the Human Rights mechanisms now put in place by the Russian Federation begin to produce significant and substantial results.

During their visit, the delegation met with the Chairman of the State Duma and the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Federation, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Justice, Emergency Situation, Federal Affairs and Nationalities, the special Assistant of the Acting President and his Special Representative on Human Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic. Meetings were also organised with representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the new Russian delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, representatives of international organisations, NGOs and the media.

./.

Upon arrival in the region, the delegation met with the President of Daghestan. In Chechnya the delegation visited Grozny, a hospital in Argun and detainees both in the Cernokosovo detention centre and in the local police station in Naurskaya. It then met the President of North Ossetia-Alania and the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Russian Federation. Finally, in Ingushetia, it visited refugee camps and held a meeting with the President.

The delegation is composed of:

• Lord JUDD, (United Kingdom, SOC), Leader of the delegation and rapporteur for the Political Affairs Committee,

• Tadeusz IWINSKI, (Poland, SOC), rapporteur for the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography

• Doros CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus, UEL), Migration, Refugees and Demography

• Anneli JÄÄTTEENMÄKI (Finland, LDR), Legal Affairs and Human Rights

• Reginald MOREELS (Belgium, EPP/CD), "Monitoring"

• Lára Margrét RAGNARSDOTTIR (Iceland, EDG), Political Affairs

• Hanne SEVERINSEN (Denmark, LDR), Political Affairs and "Monitoring"

• Juris SINKA (Latvia, EDG), "Monitoring"

APPENDIX V

Strasbourg, 30 March 2000

Dear Minister,

I refer to the decisions of the Committee of Ministers on the contribution of the Council of Europe towards restoration of the rule of law, respect of human rights and democracy in Chechnya, in particular in the light of the conclusions of the visits in the region of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner. I would also recall Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1444 (2000) on the conflict in Chechnya.

As you know, on 20 and 21 March 2000, I had meetings with the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for ensuring human and civil rights and freedoms in the Chechen Republic in the presence of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe.

Bearing in mind the Russian Federation’s membership in the Council of Europe, as well as the need for complementarity with the OSCE, the Council of Europe will provide consultative expertise to the Office of the Special Representative (hereafter ‘the Office’) in the form of Council of Europe consultative expert staff (hereafter ‘the Staff’) of 3 persons which will secure on a rotation basis, a permanent presence of at least 2 of them in the Office in Chechnya. The Staff will contribute to the work of the Office of the Special Representative on the following terms:

1. the Staff will work within the limits and the framework of the mandate of the Special Representative in accordance with the Decree of the Acting President of the Russian Federation no. 364 of 17 February 2000;

2. the Staff will enjoy the privileges and immunities provided for in the General agreement on privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe of 2 September 1949 to which the Russian Federation acceded on 28 February 1996;

3. unless otherwise provided hereby, the Staff will enjoy the same rights and duties as the Russian staff of the Office;

4. the Staff will benefit from all facilities for the freedom of movement and of access to the local population, subject to security and safety restrictions only;

5. the Staff may contact the Moscow Office of the Special Representative;

Mr Igor IVANOV

Minister for Foreign Affairs

of the Russian Federation

MOSCOW

6. the Staff will report to the Special Representative. As Council of Europe staff members, the Staff will report freely to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, while keeping at the same time the Special Representative informed and fully respecting the confidentiality of individual files;

7. in order to receive information, the Staff is free to contact intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations and institutions active in the field, as well as the media, without divulging information related to the Office’s activities;

8. the Staff will not make public statements or communications to the mass media;

9. the Council of Europe will cover the salary and daily allowances of the Staff, as well as the travel costs to and from Chechnya, and if not possible, the nearest airport where regular flights operate;

10. the Russian authorities will provide the necessary security measures and required protection for the Staff for the duration of their stay in Chechnya and, if need be, in adjacent areas;

11. the Council of Europe will provide computer, telecommunication facilities and vehicles (including maintenance) for the Staff and, subject to the availability of resources, to the Office as such;

12. the Russian authorities will provide the Staff with multi-entry visas for the duration of this agreement;

13. in case of problems of interpretation or implementation of any aspect of this agreement between the Special Representative and the Staff, the matter will be settled directly between the Special Representative and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe;

14. in case of disagreement between the Parties on the interpretation or application of this agreement, the matter will be settled through diplomatic channels. The Secretary General will inform the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe;

15. this agreement is concluded for a 6 month period, starting from the date of the reply of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and can be renewed for an additional period by mutual consent.

Your reply to this memorandum of understanding should contain your acceptance of the terms and conditions stated herein. I look forward to receiving this reply. The agreement will enter into force on the date of receipt of this reply.