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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 21:11 GMT
NATO condemns Russia's offensive in Chechnya

INCLUDES EUR 1630 CHECHNYA HUMAN RIGHTS NATO has condemned Russia's military campaign in Chechnya, saying that disproportionate and indiscriminate force was being used against civilians.

The alliance said it acknowledges Moscow's right to preserve its territorial integrity but it expressed concern about continuing reports of civilian casualties and the plight of displaced persons.

In a statement issued after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, the alliance urged Moscow to search for a political solution.

Earlier the New York-based Human Rights Watch organisation accused Russian forces in Chechnya of using violence and extortion against refugees from the fighting. It said that people arriving at checkpoints along the two main exit routes from the republic are being subjected by police and border guards to demands for money and, if they cannot pay, beatings.

Human Rights Watch called on the Russian military authorities to investigate the allegations and enforce discipline.

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