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Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 19:00 GMT 20:00 UK
Human rights activist shot in Chechnya

A prominent Russian human rights activist, Viktor Popkov, has been shot and seriously wounded in an attack near the Chechen capital Grozny.

Mr Popkov is reported to be in a coma at a hospital in the neighbouring republic of North Ossetia. The Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations described his condition as "grave".

The attack took place in the village of Alkhan-Kala, 5km (three miles) outside Grozny, when unidentified gunmen opened fire at a car carrying Mr Popkov and a local doctor.

The doctor and the driver of the vehicle - who have not been named - were also hurt.

It is not clear who carried out the attack. The pro-Moscow authorities in Chechnya and the rebels have blamed each other.

Russian troops
Russia still has sizeable forces in Chechnya
Mr Popkov has been working in Chechnya since 1995, and has been involved in negotiations to rescue hostages.

On Friday, Russia was condemned by the United Nations for the conduct of its armed forces in Chechnya.

It said Moscow was still using excessive and indiscriminate force in the conflict in the breakaway republic and that there should be a credible investigation into violations of human rights by Russian forces.

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See also:

20 Apr 01 | Europe
UN condemns Russia over Chechnya
15 Apr 01 | Europe
Second Chechen official killed
13 Apr 01 | Europe
Top official killed in Chechnya
13 Mar 01 | Media reports
Russia begins Chechnya pullout
29 Nov 00 | Europe
Eyewitness: Chechnya's bitter war
01 Oct 00 | Europe
Analysis: Chechnya one year on
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