Kitt warning on Chechnya


Strasbourg - There is a "window of opportunity" for Russia in the next two weeks to demonstrate its willingness to allow independent human rights observers to work inside Chechnya, the Minister of State for Enterprise and Employment, Mr Tom Kitt, said yesterday, Patrick Smyth reports.

Mr Kitt, in Strasbourg as acting chairman of the Council of Europe's ministerial council in its regular dialogue with the EU, warned that there was strong pressure from the council's parliamentary assembly, due to meet next month, to suspend Russia from the assembly.

Although the Russians have agreed to allow two officials from the council's human rights division to be seconded to their new office in Grozny, the council is seeking guarantees that they will have freedom to move and report and unfettered access to local people and organisations.