Europe sends monitors to Chechnya
MOSCOW, Russia -- A delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is to travel to Chechnya to monitor the observance of human rights in the breakaway republic.
The delegation, led by Lord Judd, is due to arrive in the republic on Monday.
It will visit displaced Chechens in the towns of Karabulak and Znamenskoye and meet with residents of a makeshift settlement in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, the Interfax news agency said.
The delegation, which will also include Dmitry Rogozin, the chairman of parliament's committee for international affairs, also planned to hold talks with the Kremlin-backed Chechen administration and to meet with officers of the federal forces group command during the two-day visit.
The conflict in Chechnya, which initially ended in a humiliating retreat by Russian troops in 1996, was rekindled three years later after rebel incursions into neighboring Dagestan and after apartment-house bombings in Russian cities that killed more than 300 people.
Officials blamed the blasts on Chechen rebels.
Russian forces have been locked in a bloody stalemate with the rebels for more than a year.
While major battles have ceased, the Russian side sees almost daily casualties from hit-and-run attacks and land mine explosions.
Russian military officials said on Sunday that a deputy military prosecutor was killed and his driver seriously injured when their car was ambushed in the Chechen city of Argun, according to Interfax.
Lt. Col. Roman Grigorian died Saturday after being hit by machine gun fire as he traveled on Shosseinaya Street on Saturday evening, Interfax reported.
Grigorian's driver, Magomed Magomedov, suffered serious injuries and was taken to a military hospital in Khankala, near Grozny, for treatment.
In the past 24 hours, federal troops in Chechnya came under rebel fire seven times, Interfax said.
Russian forces at checkpoints in Grozny, Argun and Urus-Martan returned the fire, the report said.
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