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Last Updated: Friday, 18 July, 2003, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Russia blamed for Chechnya 'abuses'

By Sarah Rainsford
BBC Moscow correspondent

An international human rights group has called for an investigation into the disappearance of hundreds of civilians in Chechnya.

Chechen being interrogated in filtration camp
The group says people of Chechnya are living in a state of terror
Returning from a five-day visit to the region, a team from the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHFHR) delivered a damning assessment of the situation, citing what it called a high level of grave abuses.

The IHFHR says things are getting worse in Chechnya, despite the Kremlin's statement that life inside the breakaway republic is returning to normal.

The group is now calling on Russia to invite a United Nations special rapporteur to the region to investigate the disappearance of hundreds of civilians.

Authorities 'implicated'

After the visit to the region, the team says the security situation remains grave and the people of Chechnya are living in a state of terror.

Soldier on guard in Grozny street
Thousands of Russian troops remain in Chechnya

At best, it reports, the Russian authorities are making insufficient effort to tackle human rights abuses. At worst, it says, they themselves are directly implicated.

It also says the practice of arbitrary detention is now spreading over the border into Ingushetia.

Moscow points to the referendum it staged in March as proof that the military campaign in Chechnya is over.

It says it is time for the people forced to flee the conflict to make their way home.

Most refugees in Ingushetia, though, do not believe it is safe.

This latest report offers little to persuade them.

Russia pursues Chechen rebels
27 Sep 02  |  Europe
Chechnya's female bombers
07 Jul 03  |  Europe

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