Russia

Council of Europe Secretary General meets Russian Interior Minister

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STRASBOURG, 10.12.99 - The Secretary General of the 41-member COUNCIL OF EUROPE, Walter SCHWIMMER, today met Russian Interior Minister Vladimir RUSHAILO to discuss, among other things, the current situation in Chechnya.
During the meeting, the Secretary General reiterated the Council of Europe's position that the war in itself, with the sufferings it causes to the civilian population, constitutes a violation of human rights, and stressed the need for an immediate end to hostilities and an urgent search for a political solution.

Mr Schwimmer confirmed the Organisation's readiness to provide every assistance in finding such a solution and in strengthening democratic institutions. This includes a proposal to create a human rights ombudsman's office in Chechnya and to institute a roundtable in the region for democratisation and the rule of law. The Secretary General repeated his appeal that residents of Grozny have an effective escape route from the city, and called for humanitarian aid to be urgently provided to those unable to leave.

He supported the forthcoming visit to North Caucasus by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, and accepted the Russian Interior Minister's invitation to be personally involved in further efforts towards a long-term solution.

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