Statement of Commissioner for External Relations, the Rt.Hon. Christopher Patten, on human rights violations in Chechnya

I was shocked and deeply concerned by the news footage on European television stations yesterday appearing to show a mass grave in Chechnya with mutilated bodies. This follows other deeply disturbing reports about massive human rights abuses by Russian security forces from most reputable Non-Governmental Organisations.
These reports underline once again the urgent need to establish a permanent presence of international human rights monitors in the region, notably through the OSCE and the Council of Europe, as well as to provide their full access to Chechnya. I call upon the Russian authorities to allow a full and independent investigation of the alleged crimes and human rights abuses.

Again and again we have made abundantly clear to the Russian Government our dismay at these allegations. We will certainly raise our concerns, notably on the mass grave and filtration camps allegations as well as on the fate of Russian journalist Andrei Babitsky, at the upcoming EU-Russia Ministerial on 2 March and the trilateral ministerial meeting with Russia and on the US on 3 March in Lisbon.