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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fischer Assails Russia Over Chechnya

ReutersJoschka Fischer preparing his speech for a session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on Tuesday.
GENEVA --German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer called on Russia on Tuesday to investigate human rights violations committed by its security forces in Chechnya.

In a speech to the UN Commission on Human Rights, he also voiced concern at "whippings, torture and the death penalty" in Iran, and at prolonged administrative detentions and executions in China.

The situation in Chechnya was marked by "acts of terrorist violence" that were met with repressive measures by government forces and violations of basic freedoms, Fischer said.

"The Russian government is responsible for unconditionally investigating these human rights violations and bringing those responsible to justice," he told the Geneva forum.

Activists have denounced a decision by the European Union to break with the past and not seek censure of Russia over Chechnya. New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Russia on Monday of carrying out crimes against humanity in Chechnya, where it said thousands of people have disappeared over six years.

The last time the top UN human rights body voted to criticize Moscow over its policies in Chechnya was 2001. Last year's resolution was soundly defeated, which a German diplomat recalled Tuesday had been "very painful."

European diplomats say that rather than risk another defeat, Brussels prefers to express its concerns directly to Moscow in bilateral talks. Moscow presents its fight in Chechnya as part of the U.S.-declared "war on terrorism."

Fischer said Moscow must also quickly implement rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, which said last month that Russia committed serious abuses, including torture and killing, during military offensives in Chechnya.

Independent media and international organizations must be granted free access to the region, as transparency is the only way to re-establish trust in the government's actions, he said.