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Saturday, 20 April, 2002, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Russia escapes Chechen blame
Russian troops in Chechnya
The EU said Russia used military force against civilians
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By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC correspondent in Geneva

Russia has escaped condemnation by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, after a resolution highlighting violations in the breakaway region of Chechnya was narrowly defeated.

The resolution, which was sponsored by the European Union, called for an end to fighting in the region and asked Russia to set up an inquiry into alleged human-rights violations there.

The UNHRC chamber
The vote was applauded by delegates
The proposal condemned the Russian security forces and army for "torture, ill treatment and for the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of military force against civilians".

It also outlawed all terrorist attacks committed in the Republic of Chechnya as well as the violations of humanitarian law perpetrated by Chechen fighters.

But the 53-member commission meeting in Geneva rejected the EU resolution - by just 16 to 15 votes, with a further 22 states abstaining.

The result has broken the traditional voting pattern on Russia.

For the last two years, the commission has passed resolutions condemning Russia's human-rights record, making Russia the only permanent member of the UN Security Council to be censured for human-rights abuses.

The defeat has disappointed non-governmental organisations like Human Rights Watch, which claims that the vote sends a message to Russia that it can now "intimidate the international community into silence".

See also:

04 Mar 02 | Europe
Chechnya's friendly-fire mystery
06 Sep 01 | Europe
Chechnya's decade of disaster
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Russia
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