Russia will allow foreign observers in Chechnya

BRUSSELS, March 1 (Reuters) - Russia will allow foreigners from the Council of Europe to join its humanitarian mission in Chechnya, European Union security chief Javier Solana said on Wednesday.

Solana said he had learned from Council of Europe envoy Alvaro Gil-Robles that Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin was prepared to accept some foreign monitors.

"This may represent a positive movement," Solana said. "The Russian authorities have accepted that as part of the Russian authorities' humanitarian mission in Grozny there should be people detached from the Council of Europe."

Speaking to the European Parliament in Brussels, he added that there were also negotiations with the 54-nation Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to see whether it could participate.

Earlier, a European Commission spokesman stressed that foreign monitors must be guaranteed freedom of movement.

"We will say a permanent presence must be established for human rights monitors from the Council of Europe and the OSCE with a mandate to be free to move where they want. This is the key thing," he said.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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