A regular session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has opened today in Strasbourg; the session will last until January 25. Deputies from different countries will discuss problems of the struggle with the international terrorism, possible new members of PACE, and will elect a new chairman to replace Lord Russel Johnston.
Russia is first and foremost interested in the reaction of the European parliamentarians regarding the current situation in the republic of Chechnya. Tadeusz Iwinski, who was the leader of the PACE delegation that visited Chechnya, will make a report pertaining to the humanitarian situation there. After that, PACE will probably pass a special resolution about Chechnya.
The Russian president's aid for human rights in Chechnya, Vladimir Kalamanov, stated that the hearings in Strasbourg would not bring any sensation or make any changes in the current relations between Russia and Europe. The deputies were talking about the positive shifts in the field of human rights in Chechnya.
The head of the Russian delegation, Dmitry Rogozin, has another opinion though. In his interview to the Echo Moskvy radio station, he said that “the PACE is rather superficial when it comes to Chechnya in spite of the fact that they go there from time to time. We have been raised in two different environments, which is why our eyes see the different things.” Rogozin mentioned that the perception of the Chechen situation changed drastically after the events of September 11, but, at the same time, the forces that did not want Russia and Europe to move closer together terms of the Chechen issue have activated their work. The head of the Russian delegation admits that there can be significant pressure exerted on Russia and the Chechen issue will be considered as a separate problem beyond the framework of the actions of the West in the anti-terrorist struggle.
The spokesman for the ex-president of Chechnya (Aslan Maskhadov), Ahmed Zakayev, will reportedly be present at the session in Strasbourg. It was said that Zakayev is even going to make a speech in front of the European parliamentarians. The subject of that speech (if it really takes place) is very easy to guess: a political dialogue with Maskhadov. Strasbourg is eager to listen to Zakayev’s point of view on the subject. In addition, the so-called foreign minister of Chechnya, Ilyas Akhmadov, has already left for Washington on the invitation from the US State Department.
Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov