Former Czech president criticizes Russia’s policy in Chechnya

Former President Vaclav Havel on Wednesday criticized Russia 's policy in Chechnya , calling it a "return to autocracy." In an editorial published Wednesday by the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, Havel and eight others, including retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Irish President Mary Robinson and philanthropist George Soros, accused the Russian government of using the threat of Chechen terrorism to "liquidate freedoms gained with the fall of Soviet empire."

Russian troops withdrew from Chechnya in 1996 after a two-year war, but returned in 1999 following Chechen militants' incursions into a neighboring province and apartment building explosions blamed on the rebels. "The war (in Chechnya ) is masking a return to autocracy," they wrote.

The editorial, published on the day when Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Prague on an official visit, also demanded that the issue be discussed at the next G8 summit to be held in Russia in July, reports the AP.


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