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EU Calls For End To Rights Abuses In Chechnya

Brussels, 9 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The European Commission today reacted to the news of yesterday's death of Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov with a call on Russia to end the conflict and stop the endemic human rights abuses there.

Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, a commission spokesman, said Maskhadov's death is a reminder of the instability of the region.

"We do not have information on the exact circumstances surrounding Mr. Maskhadov's death. The commission is following the developments in North Caucasus closely. It is not clear now what impact his death will have on the security situation there, and the security situation remains a big concern for us," Tardio said.

Tardio said the EU is concerned about what he said are "credible reports" of widespread human rights violations in the North Caucasus, including kidnapping and disappearances. He said the commission has repeatedly asked Russia to "make it a priority" to tackle all such violations.

Tardio said the EU continues to argue for a political solution settlement of the conflict in Chechnya, one that is "based on the support and confidence of the population and respecting Russia's territorial integrity."

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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