Chechnya: The week in brief: 27 Jan - 2 Feb 2003

News and Press Release
Originally published
Summary of the main news related to the conflict in Chechnya. Compiled by Prague Watchdog.

Monday, January 27

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights jointly urged the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to address human rights in the Chechen Republic during its plenary session in Strasbourg on January 27-31.

Tuesday, January 28

No major events.

Wednesday, January 29

At its session in Strasbourg the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) declared that the conditions for a referendum on a draft Chechen constitution were "unlikely to be met" by March 23. However, PACE did not recommend Russia to postpone the vote, as required by PACE rapporteur for Chechnya Lord Judd, and instead called for the creation of the necessary conditions, including security, freedom of association and independent media.

According to figures provided by the United Nations office for Russia, some 103,000 Chechens are staying in Ingushetia and about 19,000 of them live in tent refugee camps, while the rest live with relatives or rent private rooms, AFP reported.

Thursday, January 30

Lord Frank Judd threatened to resign his posts of the Chechnya rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as well as the co-chairman of the Joint Working Group PACE-State Duma in protest against PACE's resolution of January 29, from which Judd's recommendation to Russia to postpone a constitutional referendum in Chechnya scheduled for March 23 was excluded.

Russia's Security Council chief and former Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said that federal troops have been unable to liquidate the Chechen resistance and win the confidence of ordinary people in Chechnya.

Friday, January 31

The co-chairman of the Joint Working Group PACE-State Duma Dmitri Rogozin announced his intention to resign his post, so that Lord Judd, who announced the same intention on January 30, "has no place to return" if he decides to withdraw his intention.

The Bow Street Magistrates Court in London stated that the hearings on the extradition of Chechen politician Akhmad Zakayev may start now that British Home Secretary David Blunkett approved them on January 30, and that the course of the hearings will be determined on February 14. Judge Timothy Workman allowed Zakayev, who was arrested at Russia's request by the British police on December 5, to stay free.

Saturday, February 1

Hundreds of people took part in a demonstration in Moscow against the war in Chechnya. The protest was organized by a group of miscellaneous Russian human rights organizations and several political parties. Over a hundred people took part in a parallel anti-war demonstration in St Petersburg.

Sunday, February 2

Václav Havel, who has been the president of former Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic since December 1989, left his office as his final presidential term expired. Havel repeatedly spoke against the first Russian-Chechen war (1994-96) as well as Russia's current "anti-terrorist operation" in Chechnya.

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