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Putin rebuffs Europe on Chechnya

Schroeder, Putin
Schroeder and Putin met for an hour after discovering they would both be in Oslo on the same day

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CNN's Jill Dougherty reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin's tirade against a reporter when questioned on policy involving Chechnya (November 12)
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OSLO, Norway -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has brushed aside European calls for a peaceful solution to the Chechen conflict, saying it had to be solved by the Russian and Chechen people alone.

"The problem is so complicated that no-one can give really good advice," he told a news conference after meeting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Oslo on Tuesday.

"It is an internal Russian problem to be solved between the Chechen people and the Russian federation."

"Of course we listen to our European colleagues," Putin said, adding that regrettably there had been examples of conflict in other parts of Europe as well.

Russia scrapped plans for a partial pullout from the southerly region of Chechnya after Chechen separatists took an entire Moscow theatre hostage last month. The siege ended with the deaths of 128 hostages and 41 rebels. (Full story)

On Sunday, Putin ruled out talks with what he termed "terrorists," including Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov.

He made the declaration at a meeting with pro-Kremlin Chechen leaders where he also blamed Maskhadov for the war and social destruction of Chechnya.

Although Putin says the war is won, his troops face almost daily attacks from the rebels.

Putin scrapped plans for a partial pullout from Chechnya after the Moscow hostage-taking
Putin scrapped plans for a partial pullout from Chechnya after the Moscow hostage-taking

The United States and other countries have urged Putin to settle the Chechen conflict with negotiations.

Delegates at a meeting in Moscow on Saturday of human rights leaders heard Lev Ponomaryov, the head of the For Human Rights organisation, call for "the immediate start of a peace process in Chechnya, even if it goes against the mood in society." (Full story)

Russian forces first entered Chechnya in 1994 when the country declared independence but withdrew in humiliation two years later after a successful rebel campaign.

For three years the republic enjoyed a de facto independence, but the military launched a second invasion in 1999 after a series of apartment bombings and raids into the neighbouring republic of Dagestan, which the Kremlin blamed on Chechen fighters.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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