Russians, Chechens Exchange Lists of Prisoner, Missing

News and Press Release
Originally published
GROZNY, Russia (AP) - Russians and Chechen separatists today exchanged lists of prisoners and people missing in the 18-month war in Chechnya.

The two sides agreed last month in a truce accord to exchange prisoners and work together to locate MIAs.

The Interfax news agency said the Russians turned a list of 1,089 names over to a joint commission on prisoners and MIAs; the Chechens listed 1,322 names.

It quoted Sergei Osipov, secretary of the commission, as saying no prisoners have been exchanged so far. He blamed the Chechens. The news agency did not give the Chechens' side of the story.

Attempts to negotiate an end to the war, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives since President Boris Yeltsin sent in troops to put down Chechnya's independence bid, are moving slowly.

A round of peace talks on Saturday went nowhere and Chechen negotiator Kazbek Mak hashev sounded pessimistic afterward. More talks are set for this week.

Makhashev told Interfax it became clear during the talks that the Russian military does not want to comply with recent agreements.

Each side has blamed the other for the lack of progress and a truce in the breaka way republic has been widely ignored by both sides. Russian and Chechen fighters skirmish daily and the death toll continues to rise.

Interfax said one Russian soldier died and two were injured Sunday in a clash with Chechen fighters. It did not give Chechen casualties.

Most of the casualties have been civilians, and international observers have accu sed the Russian army - and, to a lesser extent, the Chechens - of human rights violations.

In a rare Russian acknowledgment, an official in the chief military prosecutor's office was quoted by Interfax this weekend as saying Russian troops have murdered, robbed, beaten and raped Chechen civilians.

A variety of charges have been filed against more than 1,000 Russian soldiers, the unidentified official said.