PACE calls for Chechen cease-fire, talks

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 13 March following a two-day visit to Daghestan, Chechnya, and Ingushetia, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe envoy Lord Frank Judd condemned what he termed serious human rights violations and war crimes committed in Chechnya by both Russian and Chechen forces, AFP reported. He noted assurances by senior Russian officials, including acting President Vladimir Putin, to investigate allegations of human rights violations, but said those statements appear not to have been acted upon. Judd called for an immediate cease-fire and for measures to enable international humanitarian agencies to visit Chechnya. He said the PACE delegation he heads "calls on the Russian government without any further delay to begin negotiations on a political solution to the conflict with elected Chechen representatives and other influential Chechens." Later on 13 March, however, Kremlin Chechnya spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii again ruled out any talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, Interfax reported. LF

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