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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MSF: Russia Imposes 'Terror' on Chechnya

Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian body Medicins sans Frontieres has condemned Russia's "policy of terror" in Chechnya, which it said included arbitrary executions and ethnic cleansing.

In a report issued Wednesday in Brussels titled "Chechnya, the Politics of Terror," MSF also criticized what it called international indifference to the Chechens' plight.

"People are forced to live in a ghetto, which locks them into a deadly day-to-day confrontation with the Russian army. They cannot move freely and the wounded and sick are prevented from passing military barriers," said the France-based organization, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

"As soon as civilians move, as they are treated as suspects, staying alive turns into a game of 'Russian roulette,'" said MSF, which has been providing emergency medical assistance in Chechnya since November 1999.

The report said about 300,000 people are refugees or displaced by the crisis, which erupted when Russian troops moved into the separatist region in September 1999 to crush what Moscow called "international terrorists."

"These military operations and acts of violence committed against individuals are like a collective punishment, which turns each and every civilian into a suspect and a potential victim," said MSF official Loick Barriquand.

MSF urged member states of the Council of Europe human rights watchdog to raise the situation in Chechnya at international forums like the UN Security Council.

In a related story, the European Union said in a statement Thursday it will provide 5.6 million euros ($4.8 million) for food and other assistance for refugees from the Chechen war.

The Nobel Prize-winning group says the Kremlin is guilty of 'ethnic cleansing.'

The funds will be disbursed through European nonprofit organizations working in and around the war zone, including MSF and the Danish Refugee Council, a statement from the EU delegation in Moscow said.

Part of the money will be used to clear mines laid by the Russian military and rebels, and to educate people living in Chechnya about the danger of mines. Money will also be spent on winter supplies, such as warm coats and blankets to help refugees living in tents to get through another season of snow and cold.

At the height of the Chechen war last winter, hundreds of thousands of refugees had fled to the neighboring republic of Ingushetia. Thousands of them had been wounded by artillery fire and bombs.

The EU funds will assist both refugees living in camps or private homes in Ingushetia and those who remain inside Chechnya but are homeless, the statement said.

The donation brings the European Union's contribution to Chechen refugees to about 25 million euros ($21.8 million), the statement said. If bilateral aid from EU member countries is also considered, the union has been the largest donor to Chechen refugees.

  • A Chechen freelance cameraman was shot and killed as he was watching television at a neighbor's home in the republic, his brother said Wednesday.

    Adam Tepsurgayev, 24, bled to death early Tuesday after Chechen-speaking gunmen burst into the house in the village of Yermolovka and shot him in the thigh and groin, said his younger brother, Ali. Yermolovka is near the Chechen capital, Grozny.

    Reuters officials in London said Tepsurgayev had worked for them periodically as a freelancer but had not done anything for them in more than six months.

    Tepsurgayev had provided video footage of a Chechen rebel commander, Shamil Basayev, having a leg amputated in early February, said Martin Nesirky, Reuters' bureau chief in Moscow.

    Ali Tepsurgayev told The Associated Press that his brother had been killed as punishment for his work as a journalist. That claim could not be immediately confirmed.

    Meanwhile, the death count continues to rise in the conflict, with four Russian servicemen killed and 18 wounded in a series of rebel attacks in Grozny and other districts, officials said Thursday.

    (AP, Reuters) Medicins sans Frontieres: The Politics of Terror