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Saturday, 5 February, 2000, 14:03 GMT
London protest over Chechnya

soldiers Protesters say the war is barbaric


Protesters against the war in Chechnya have gathered to stage a rally in central London.

Around 200 demonstrators, led by Labour MPs Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn, plan to march from Westminster past Downing Street to Trafalgar Square.

March organiser Mark Osborn said there was a growing peace movement in Russia because of the number of young men who were dying in the fighting.

"We are appalled about the carnage that the Russians are inflicting on the Chechens," he said.

"This war is wrong, outrageous and barbaric and should end. The Chechens should be free to decide their own future."

"We think there is a need for a demonstrative show of outrage in Britain." he added.

George Robertson Robertson: "No Nato intervention"
Earlier on Saturday, Nato Secretary General George Robertson said "nobody in their right mind" wanted the alliance to intervene in the Chechen crisis.

The former defence secretary said he condemned Russian action in the breakaway republic.

But he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I don't think there is anybody in their right mind who has suggested Nato should intervene inside the territory of Russia.

"The Nato governments and Nato itself have been absolutely clear that, although we understand the security problems that the Russians have faced, we deplore the disproportionate level of violence that took place."

Meanwhile a senior Russian commander has said a large number of troops will be withdrawn from Chechnya following the retreat of Chechen rebels from the capital, Grozny.

Deputy chief of staff General Valery Manilov told a news conference in Moscow that the decision had been reached at a high-level defence meeting in the Kremlin.

"It was decided today to prepare for a withdrawal of a considerable part of the troops engaged there," he said. He did not give details of the numbers or the timing.

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See also:
05 Feb 00 |  Europe
Robertson: Nato must modernise
04 Feb 00 |  Europe
Russia to cut Chechnya force
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