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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Attacks Draw International Censure

GROZNY -- Russia's human rights commissioner Sergei Kovalyov, who rushed to Chechnya after Moscow sent troops to the rebel region, on Tuesday urged the world community to intervene to stop the fighting.


International reaction to the conflict in Chechnya has been largely muted so far, although Tuesday saw protests against the violence and appeals for a peaceful resolution from Ukraine, Iran and Estonia.


Kovalyov, speaking to reporters in the Chechen capital Grozny, said he and his team had seen bodies of at least 42 Chechen civilians killed in Russian bombing raids and fighting. He said the scale of human rights violations by Russian troops in Chechnya meant the conflict was no longer exclusively Moscow's internal affair.


Appealing to the United Nations and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (formerly the CSCE) to intervene to stop the bombing, he said: "These pilots and artillerists do not know where they are aiming."


On Monday, Iran called for a peaceful settlement to the conflict, the official news agency IRNA reported. It quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mahmoud Mohammadi, as saying: "We ask our neighbor Russia to adopt a policy without using force and killing innocent people, to settle the crisis peacefully."


Ukraine's parliament echoed the protest Tuesday. "We are convinced that resolving the problem by means of force and arms will not only deepen the conflict, but could negatively affect security win the region and the world," it said in an appeal to Russia's parliament.


In Estonia, about 50 people protested outside the U.S. Embassy against Washington's stance over the violence in Chechnya. The United States has said repeatedly that the conflict is an internal Russian affair.


"The lack of activity on the part of the countries whose embassies we are picketing allows for the bloodshed to continue in Chechnya," said Ants Erm, a member of parliament from the rightist Estonia Progress Party. He said the United States should take a "firm position on the Russian aggression."


Russia's official position is that Western states should not get involved in what is an internal matter.