Doc. 8929

20 January 2001

Conflict in the Chechen Republic – recent developments

Report

Political Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Lord Judd, United Kingdom, Socialist Group

Summary

Reiterating its conviction that Russia has not acted in accordance with the Council of Europe’s principles and values in the conduct of its military campaign in the Chechen Republic, the Political Affairs Committee takes note of some encouraging, if limited, developments since its last debate in September 2000.

Nevertheless, the report notes that serious grounds for concern about human rights still exist within the Chechen Republic and that consequently the overall situation is not yet satisfactory.

Russia must take immediate and effective action to deal with these shortcomings. As regards the political solution to the conflict, she must give firm assurances that the Chechen people will be able to freely elect their own political representatives.

The Chechen fighters are urged to respect human rights and international humanitarian law. The report condemns all terrorist attacks and calls for the immediate release of all hostages.

Recognising that there are those within the Russian Federation who are willing to work for a solution to the conflict in conformity with the Council of Europe’s standards and values, the report proposes to work closely with Russian parliamentarians and to set up effective parliamentary mechanisms to this purpose.

I.       Draft resolution

1.       The Assembly recalls its Resolution 1201 (1999) of 4 November 1999, Recommendation 1444 (2000) of 27 January 2000, Recommendation 1456 (2000) of 6 April 2000, Resolution 1221 (2000) of 29 June 2000 and Resolution 1227 (2000) and Recommendation 1478 (2000) of 28 September 2000.

2.       The Assembly takes note of the information collected during the visits by its rapporteurs to Moscow from 8 to 12 December 2000 and to Moscow and the Chechen Republic from 13 to 18 January 2001. It appreciates the assistance and co-operation of the Russian authorities and in particular that of the State Duma in organising these visits.

3.       The Assembly reiterates its conviction that the Russian Federation has not acted in accordance with the Council of Europe’s principles and values in the conduct of its military campaign in the Chechen Republic. Therefore, the Assembly considers that many of its requirements of Russia with regard to the conflict are still valid and must be implemented.

4.       However, the Assembly takes note of some encouraging, if limited, developments since its last debate in September 2000, namely:

(i)       progress towards the reestablishment of state institutions in the Chechen Republic, especially in the sphere of civilian administration, the judicial system and the local police, with increased involvement of the Chechen people themselves in those institutions.

(ii)       a reduction in the number of checkpoints and an increase in the number of checkpoints manned both by Russian federal forces and the Chechen police

(iii)       the withdrawal of some troops from the Chechen Republic

(iv)       limited access by Russian NGOs to the Chechen Republic

(v)       accelerated delivery of identity cards.

5.       The Assembly believes that the action by the Office of Mr Kalamanov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Human Rights in the Chechen Republic, where three Council of Europe experts are currently working, has had a beneficial impact on the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic.

6.       Nevertheless, the Assembly notes that serious grounds for concern about human rights still exist within the Chechen Republic and that consequently the overall situation is not yet satisfactory.

7.       Specifically, the Assembly remains concerned that:

civilian and particularly military prosecutors have so far demonstrated insufficient commitment and rigour in their pursuit of complaints transmitted to them, either directly or through Mr Kalamanov’s Office, notably in regard to investigations into alleged crimes committed by members of the armed forces against the civilian population

8.       The Assembly regrets:

(i)       that very few cases concerning alleged human rights violations and crimes committed by the armed forces have yet reached either the civilian or the military courts, and that there have been no indictments as yet in connection with the alleged mass killings in Alkhan-Yurt (December 1999), Staropromyslovski (January 2000) and Aldi (February 2000)

(ii)       that no results have been achieved as regards the investigation of the disappearance of Mr Alikhodzhiyev, former Speaker of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic, and that

(iii)       that convincing reports indicate the continuation of abuses and harassment at checkpoints and unexplained disappearances and homicides, in particular in the course of the mop-up operations,

9.       The Assembly is concerned lest a combination of ill-disciplined troops and the apparent failure vigorously to pursue alleged crimes committed by federal servicemen against the civilian population has generated a climate of impunity, resulting in further human rights violations and believes that this must immediately be remedied.

10.       The Assembly is convinced that immediate and effective action by Russia to deal with these shortcomings is essential if there is to be a tangible improvement in the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic.

11.       As the same time, the Assembly condemns human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed by Chechen fighters and also all terrorist activity with its increasing number of civilian casualties It further unreservedly condemns the threats against members of the Chechen administration.

12.       The Assembly calls for an immediate release of all hostages, including Mr Kenny Gluck, kidnapped in January 2001. It stresses that those responsible have still further aggravated the bad living conditions of the Chechen people, as a result of the necessary security precautions taken by humanitarian agencies.

13.       The Assembly remains deeply concerned about the continuing serious humanitarian situation of those people displaced by the conflict. It notes the assurances given by the Russian authorities that sufficient funds have been allocated to provide humanitarian relief as well as to build temporary housing for those still in tents, but it still looks for the evidence of adequate practical results.

14.       The Assembly notes the anticipated appointment of a new Chechen government by the Russian authorities and welcomes assurances that a comprehensive plan for the economic and social reconstruction of the Chechen Republic is being prepared.

15.       Nevertheless, the Assembly stresses that without a political solution which is acceptable to the majority of the Chechen people, there cannot be any lasting stability in the Chechen Republic, whatever the financial means allocated for this purpose.

16.       Therefore, the Assembly calls on the highest authorities of the Russian Federation to give firm, unequivocal and public assurances that the Chechen people, like those in any other part of the Russian Federation, will be able freely to elect their own political representatives, who will be accountable to them and that the rights, dignity and national identity of the Chechen people will be fully respected.

17.       While recognising that the conditions for convincing democratic elections in the Chechen Republic are still absent, the Assembly calls on the Russian authorities to take immediate intermediate steps, such as the establishment of a consultative body comprised of respected Chechen leaders with the role of national reconciliation and responsibility for preparing the future self-governing status of the Chechen Republic

18.       The Assembly believes that only an elected Chechen government can provide a sustainable basis for civilian order to take the place of the predominant influence of the military in the Chechen Republic.

19.       The Assembly recognises that there are those within the Russian Federation who are willing to work for a solution to the conflict in conformity with the Council of Europe’s standards and values and recalls that participants to the hearing on the situation in the Chechen Republic organised by the State Duma in September 2000 adopted a series of recommendations regarding the conflict, of which many coincide with those contained in the texts adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly.

20.       The Assembly reiterates its determination to join forces with Russian parliamentarians in their efforts to implement these recommendations and, to this aim, it resolves:

to set up a small working group comprised of one representative of the Political Affairs Committee, one representative of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and one representative of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, together with representatives of the State Duma, to keep under constant review the progress made on the Assembly’s recommendations as well as on the recommendations formulated by members of the Duma following the hearing in September 2000, with regard both to the human rights situation and to the overall reconstruction effort, and to make regular reports both to the relevant committees of the Assembly and to the State Duma. In order to ensure the effectiveness of this working group, the Assembly recommends that the State Duma be represented by the Chairman of its delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, the Chairman of the Duma Special Committee on the Chechen Republic and by members of the other most relevant Duma Committees, such as that on defence.

21.       The Assembly considers that Russian parliamentarians should be fully acquainted with the reports and findings of the international NGO’s monitoring the situation in the Chechen Republic, and recommends that the Duma Special Committee on the Chechen Republic holds similar hearings as that held by the Political Affairs Committee in Brussels on 21 November 2000.

22.       Further, the Assembly resolves:

(i)       to invite to meetings of its competent committees members of government of the Russian Federation and other competent officials responsible for implementing the recommendations of the Assembly and of the Duma hearing; and

(ii)       to co-operate closely with Mr Kalamanov’s office in Znamenskoye, in order to make the best possible use of its presence in the Chechen Republic.

II.       Draft recommendation

      The Assembly, referring to Resolution ….. (2001) on the conflict in the Chechen Republic – recent developments, recommends that the Committee of Ministers continues to monitor action taken by the Russian Federation in fulfilling its obligations both as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and in response to the Assembly’s recommendations and resolutions, and keeps the Assembly regularly informed about progress or the lack of it.

III.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur

1.       Introduction

1.       Accompanied by Mr Bindig, rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and following our visit to Moscow from 8 to 12 December 2000, I again visited the Russian Federation from 13 to 18 January 2001. The visit to the Chechen Republic took place on 15 and 16 January, staying overnight in the Chechen Republic, and meetings were held in Moscow on 17 and 18 January 2001. The programme of the visit is in Appendix I.

2.       I would like to thank the State Duma, and all the other institutions and officials involved, for the organisation of this visit, in which practically all the meetings requested were included. Time was of course short and security arrangements inevitably affected the context of what we were able to do. On one or two occasions the style of hospitality offered to us contrasted with the serious humanitarian situation.

2.       Progress so far

3.       I believe that certain limited progress has been made in the Chechen Republic:

-       The structure of civilian government is beginning to be put in place, in particular:

-       the number of checkpoints has been reduced;

4.       The action by Mr Kalamanov’s Office, where three Council of Europe experts are currently working, has had identifiably positive results:

-       the issuing of identity documents has been accelerated.

3.       Main shortcomings

5.       Nevertheless, serious anxieties about the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic persist.

-       Very few cases concerning alleged human rights violations by the armed troops have reached the judicial system, whether civilian or military. At present, only 34 such cases have been sent to court and only five persons have been sentenced (just one for homicide), six cases have been stopped on the basis of an amnesty and the rest are pending.

-       The Prosecutor’s Office, both civilian and military, appears to have failed to pursue with rigour the cases which have been referred to it, irrespective of whether this was directly or through Mr Kalamanov’s Office.

-       Not a single case regarding the alleged massacres in Alkhan-Yurt, Staropromyslovski and Aldi has reached the courts. We were told that the Prosecutor’s Office has opened several dozen criminal investigations concerning the Alkhan-Yurt alleged massacre, but that very little progress has been made on the other two cases.

-       No progress has been registered as regards the case of Mr Ruslan Alikhodjzhiyev, former Speaker of the Chechen Parliament.

-       Abuses and harassment at checkpoints seem to be continuing.

-       Unexplained disappearances and homicides are convincingly still reported, often with little means of identifying the perpetrators.

6.       During our visit to the Memorial Office (Russian NGO) in Grozny, the accounts of such offences seemed compelling enough to justify their very serious investigation by the competent State authorities without delay.

4.       The humanitarian situation

7.       The humanitarian situation seems still to be disturbing. Food is inadequate, medicines are in short supply, the possibility of receiving hospital treatment is very small, children often do not have clothes for school, etc.

8.       Even though we were told that sufficient funds for humanitarian assistance have been allocated from the State budget, the real impact of these measures is still not visible.

9.       Most of the IDPs we met expressed the wish to return to their homes, which are mostly destroyed, in particular in Grozny. Once again, the government has reportedly allocated funds for decent temporary housing in Chechen Republic for those who are still in the camps. But there is little evidence of effective action.

5.       Prospects for a lasting solution

10.       We were told that the Federal Government will soon adopt a comprehensive plan for social and economic rehabilitation of the Chechen Republic over the next two years. This plan has been prepared by Mr Kadyrov’s administration. It is essential that effective action starts immediately. Otherwise no lasting stability will be achieved.

11.       However, economic and social measures of themselves will not be enough. It is imperative that firm and unequivocal assurances be given to the Chechen people that their identity and dignity will be respected and that they will have their own political institutions with their own elected representatives accountable to them. Without such assurances all the rest could prove counterproductive. Because elections can obviously only take place when the necessary minimum conditions are in place, a clear authoritative declaration of intent should be made immediately. During the transitional pre-election period intermediate steps are necessary, for example the setting up of a temporary consultative body, composed of respected Chechen leaders. Such a body is needed to help national reconciliation and to start preparations on the future governmental status of the Chechen Republic.

12.       Establishing Chechen political representation, with real powers, will be an essential part of reducing the still overwhelming powers of the army and the law-enforcement agencies in the Chechen Republic and of providing a guarantee against human rights violations by those forces.

6.       Terrorist activities

13.       An immediate stop to all terrorist atrocities in the Chechen Republic is clearly vital for a secure and stable future. It is obvious that terrorist elements are operating in the region, aiming their action at the armed forces and law-enforcement agencies, Chechens taking part in the reconstruction efforts and at ordinary civilians. The recent threats to heads of the Chechen administration and murders of Chechen religious leaders must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

14.       In this connection, we should call on those, whoever they are, involved in the recent kidnapping of Kenny Gluck, lead doctor from “Médecins sans frontičre” to release him immediately. Besides the suffering inflicted on Mr Gluck and his family, this kidnapping has meant an immediate decrease in humanitarian aid to Chechen civilians and a further increase in their suffering as humanitarian agencies pay more attention to security.

7.       Conclusions

15.       I am certain that it is the people of the Russian Federation themselves who have to make the enormous efforts necessary for the re-establishment of normal life in the Chechen Republic. These efforts cannot be replaced by any action by the international community, whatever its intensity. The task of the outside world is to support and to provide practical assistance.

16.       I believe that there are people within the Russian Federation willing to find a solution to the conflict in conformity with the values of the Council of Europe and willing to act accordingly. But a great deal has to be accomplished to achieve substantial and irrevocable change in the situation. Declarations of good intent, however good they sound, are worth little if not backed up by practical and effective action. Indeed they can become counterproductive by fanning the flames of disillusion and cynicism.

17.       The Assembly must, therefore, continue to put pressure on the Committee of Ministers to intensify the follow-up to its recommendations adopted throughout last year. Most of them are still highly relevant and the Committee of Ministers must continue to give regular accounts to the Assembly on the action they have taken.

18.       I am convinced that a number of the Russian Deputies sincerely wish to change the situation in the Chechen Republic for the better. The recommendations adopted at the hearing organised by the State Duma in September 2000, many of them coinciding with the texts of the Assembly, strengthen this conviction.

19.       We must seize the opportunity to act together with our Russian colleagues for the implementation of these recommendations. The mechanisms suggested in the draft resolution have been designed to this effect.

20.       Of course we must strongly condemn all human rights violations in the Chechen Republic whenever they occur – just as we must condemn such violations whenever and wherever they occur elsewhere within member countries of the Council of Europe, for without consistency credibility is absent. Nevertheless, history will judge our Assembly not by the number of times we repeat those criticisms but by our substantial and measurable contribution to a better and fairer life for the Chechen people.

APPENDIX 1

Programme of the visit of the delegation
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

to Moscow and the North Caucasus (13 to 18 January 2001)

Saturday, 13 January2001

Arrival of the delegation

Sunday, 14 January 2001

12        noon        Departure to Mineralnye Vody on flight no. 1221

2        pm       Arrival in Mineralnye Vody

Monday, 15 January 2001

9       am       Departure for Znamenskoye by helicopter

10       am       Visit to the “Severnyi” camp for displaced people

2-5       pm       Meetings with:

Tuesday, 16 January 2001

12 noon       Visit to:

Wednesday, 17 January 2001

Thursday, 18 January 2001

8.30        am       Meeting with Mr Indulis Berzins, Foreign Minister of Latvia and Chairman-in-office of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (Hotel “National”)

APPENDIX II

Programme

of the visit of Lord Judd, Rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee and of Mr R. Bindig, Rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, to Moscow

from 8 to 11 December 2000

Friday, 8 December 2000

Saturday, 9 December 2000

08.45 am       Departure from the “National” Hotel

09.30 am       Meeting with the First Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation

11.00 am       Meeting with Mr Chaika, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation

02.00 pm       Meeting with Mr Lebedev, Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation

03.00 pm       Meeting with Mr Ustinov, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

06.30 – 07.00 pm       Dinner hosted by Mr Rogozin, Chairman of the Delegation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to the PACE (State Duma)

Sunday, 10 December 2000

10.00 - 12.00 noon       Meeting with Council of Europe experts working in Mr Kalamanov’s office in Znamenskoye (at the ‘National Hotel’)

12.00 – 03.00 pm       Working lunch and meeting with human rights NGO’s (at the ‘National Hotel’)

Monday, 11 December 2000

09.30 am       Meeting with Mr McCallin, UNHCR representative in Moscow

11.00 – 12.00 noon       Meeting with Mr Elagin, Minister of the Russian Federation (“Minister on the Chechen Republic Affairs”)

01.00 – 02.00       Meeting with Mr Kalamanov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for human rights in the Chechen Republic, and Mr Rogozin, Chairman of the Delegation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

Reporting Committee : Political Affairs Committee

Reference to Committee  : Ref. 2470, Res. 1201 (1999), Res. 1221 (2000), Rec. 1444 and 1456 (2000), Res. 1227 (2000), Rec. 1478 (2000)

Draft Resolution and Recommendation unanimously adopted by the Committee on 20 January 2001

Members of the Committee : Mr Davis (Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-chairperson), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairman), MM Arzilli, Atkinson, Mrs Bakoyianni, MM Bársony, Behrendt, Bergqvist, Björck, Blaauw, Bühler (alternate : Mrs Hoffmann), Clerfayt, Daly, Demetriou, Derycke, Dokle, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Mrs Durrieu, Mr Evangelisti, Mrs Feric-Vac, Mr Frey, Mrs Fyfe (alternate : Mr Rapson), MM Gjellerod, Glesener, Gligoroski, Gross, Gül, Iwinski, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Kotsonis, Krzaklewski (alternate : Mr Adamczyk), Kuzmickas, Lupu, Martinez Casan, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Nedelciuc, Mrs Nemkova, MM Neuwirth, Oliynyk, Pahor, Palmitjavila Ribo, Prusak, de Puig, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM Rogozin, Saakashvili, Schieder, Schloten, Selva, Sinka, Spindelegger, Mrs Squarcialupi, Mrs Stepová, MM Surjan (alternate : Mr Eörsi), Thoresen (alternate: Mr Simonsen), Timmermans (alternate : Mrs Zwerver), Vella, Weiss, Zuiganov, N……………(alternate : Mr Badulescu), 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