"We have received alarming reports from usually reliable sources on the execution of at least 38 civilians, on violence, looting and destruction of civilian property by Russian troops. Not only must these reports be investigated, the perpetrators must be brought to justice and the Russian authorities must take action to prevent such acts being committed.
In its recent Recommendation on the conflict in Chechnya, the Parliamentary Assembly called on Russia to strictly respect the human rights of the civilian population in the territories of Chechnya under its control, in particular with regard to harassment by the security forces. We make similar requirements on the Chechen forces, which have also been responsible for numerous human rights violations.
Furthermore we are concerned about restrictions on the media. We reiterate our earlier call on Russia to guarantee the independent operation of the media. Through Chairman Pedro ROSETA (Portugal, EPP/CD) of our Committee which is responsible for the media, we are calling for clarification of the circumstances of the arrest, detention, exchange and present whereabouts of Russian journalist Andrey BABITSKY. We are continuing to monitor the situation, but there is now an urgent need for permanent Council of Europe presence on the ground as was proposed in our Recommendation", the President said.
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