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DATE=11/16/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CONGRESS-RUSSIA/CHECHNYA (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-256251 BYLINE=PAULA WOLFSON DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The U-S Congress is speaking out on the situation in Chechnya. The House has condemned Russian attacks on Chechen civilians, while key members of the Senate have urged specific action by President Clinton. We have more from V-O-A's Paula Wolfson. TEXT: Congress has said little in recent weeks about the fighting in Chechnya. That silence is now broken. In the midst of budget negotiations with the White House, House members went to their legislative chamber to debate a resolution on the Chechen situation. Their resolution is, in essence, an expression of deep concern. It urges the Russian government to stop the use of force against Chechen civilians, and to open negotiations with regional leaders. The bill cleared the House with overwhelming support (407-4). It is not binding on the White House. But it is a warning from a Congress that votes on foreign aid, defense spending, and other issues watched closely in Moscow. New Jersey Republican Christopher Smith authored the resolution. /// SMITH ACT /// The Russian government is justified in rebuffing armed aggression against its territorial integrity. Moreover, one can certainly sympathize with Russia's frustration when unsolved bombings kill almost 300 persons in Russia. But this does not justify reactivating a war against the civilian population in Chechnya. /// END ACT /// He was joined by another human rights activist in the House - Democrat Tom Lantos of California. /// LANTOS ACT /// Russia is a civilized country. And it is high time it returned to civilized behavior. /// END ACT /// Members of the Senate are also making their concerns known. Twelve senior Republicans have sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to bring up the matter during this week's European security summit in Istanbul. The Senators want Mr. Clinton to demand an immediate cease-fire when he meets with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. And they say the White House should drop plans to sign an amended arms control treaty with the Russian leader. The Adapted Conventional Forces In Europe Treaty, as it is formally known, modifies a 1990 agreement that limits deployments of artillery, tanks and other armored vehicles. The signatories of the letter include Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms. They say Russia is not living up to its commitments under the existing conventional forces treaty, indicating the amended pact would stand little chance of winning Senate ratification. (Signed) NEB/PW/TVM/PT 16-Nov-1999 19:23 PM EDT (17-Nov-1999 0023 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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