The situation in the Chechen Republic is a source of our great concern and sadness. Life, honour and dignity of Russian citizens are at stake. The regime of Dzhokhar Dudayev and Aslan Maskhadov usurped power in that part of the Russian Federation to make Chechnya an enclave of crime and terrorism. Utter lawlessness and arbitrary action reigned there to trample basic human rights. Ethnic and regional discrimination, hostage taking, slavery and slave trafficking, murder, rape and public executions became part of everyday life in the republic. The militants desecrated basic principles of Islam under the cover of Sharia to wage war on the entire population of Chechnya. As a result, approximately 220,000 ethnic Russians and 650,000 Chechens have been forced to flee from their homes since 1992.
A top priority in Russian state policy is restoration of law and order in the republic, and revival of respect for human rights. As we eradicate the terrorist plague from Russian society, we lean for support on national accord and fulfill our pledges to the international community in the field of human rights, which concerns Russian citizens and many foreigners who have fallen victim to the militants in Chechnya.
The responsibility of those who violate the law and human rights in Chechnya always remains at the centre of our attention. A special envoy of the President of the Russian Federation has been appointed to protect the rights and freedoms of every individual in the Chechen Republic. Experts from the Council of Europe will assist the envoy. We have launched criminal proceedings on acts of genocide, kidnappings, and instigation of inter-religious and inter-ethnic strife – in particular, on the killing of 33 people in the village of Mekenskaya in the Naur District, and of ten ethnic Russians in the village of Chervlenaya in the Shelkovskoi District.
We are paying great attention to public complaints and reports about offences committed by the military and by law enforcement officers. We have adopted an uncompromising stand on this issue. Russian law enforcement bodies launch criminal proceedings against all violators of the acting legislation.
All cases of abuse and violations of human rights in the course of the counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus are being thoroughly investigated, and if the reported facts are confirmed, the culprits will be punished, whoever they might be.