TITLE=RUSSIA / FOREIGN (L-ONLY)
INTRO: Russia is reacting forcefully to the growing
chorus of international criticism of its military
offensive in Chechnya. V-O-A Moscow Correspondent
Peter Heinlein reports Russian officials are urging
the West not to focus on Chechnya during next week's
European security summit.
TEXT: Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin
says Russia is willing to discuss the war in Chechnya
at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe [O-S-C-E] summit in Istanbul.
But Mr. Rakhmanin told reporters Wednesday it would be
a mistake to let Chechnya dominate the gathering,
which will bring together heads of state and
government from more than 50 countries.
/// 1st RAKHMANIN ACT ///
Again I would like to stress that we are not
against talking about Chechnya and providing
information. We are against making Chechnya the
main point of Istanbul.
/// END ACT ///
With the summit just over one week away, Western
governments have been intensifying criticism of the
two-month-long Chechen offensive.
A U-S State Department spokesman this week said
Russia's indiscriminate use of force against civilians
in Chechnya is not in keeping with the Geneva
conventions. President Clinton, who is scheduled to
attend the Istanbul summit, said he would continue to
press for what he called a "minimization of civilian
But Mr. Rakhmanin says Russia rejects the U-S
/// 2nd RAKHMANIN ACT ///
Russia is not violating the Geneva conventions.
We do not use excessive force. But you must
understand that when terrorists and bandits are
pursuing their tactics, they tend to get closer
to the civilian population, and sometimes it's
very difficult to avoid civilian casualties.
/// END ACT ///
// OPT // Mr. Rakhmanin complained that Western
leaders and Western audiences are receiving a one-
sided picture of the offensive in Chechnya. Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov was earlier quoted as saying the
West was inventing what he called an "illusion of a
humanitarian catastrophe" in the region.
// OPT // Mr. Rakhmanin emphasized that Moscow
considers Chechnya an internal affair, but said Russia
is looking forward to telling its side of the story at
the O-S-C-E summit. The Russian delegation in
Istanbul may be led by President Boris Yeltsin. //
END OPT //
In advance of the summit, Russia has allowed an
O-S-C-E mission to travel to Ingushetia, where members
have been deluged with stories from Chechen refugees
about attacks on civilians.
The ITAR-Tass news agency Wednesday quoted the head of
the O-S-C-E delegation as saying the Chechen conflict
can no longer be considered a Russian internal
affair. The Tass dispatch said mission chief Kim
Traavik of Norway said the O-S-C-E intends to put
forward a peace initiative to Moscow to end the
10-Nov-1999 13:10 PM EDT (10-Nov-1999 1810 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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