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Chechnya: Politics and Government

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the security situation in Chechnya. (157570)

The North Caucasus, particularly Chechnya, remains fragile and vulnerable to human rights abuses.

Although some reconstruction work is now being undertaken, much of the Chechen Republic's urban and rural infrastructure was destroyed in fighting between separatist rebels and federal troops allied with local forces loyal to Moscow. While large-scale military action by federal troops has now ceased, low intensity fighting involving local Chechen forces continues. There are frequent reports of explosions and shootings in the republic and elsewhere in Southern Russia carried out by rebel groups.

Russian forces claim to have eliminated many rebel groups and fighters, including the death of Shamil Basayev in 2006. But long-term security in the region is undermined by poor social and economic conditions as well as credible reports of widespread human rights violations by all sides.

Instability within Chechnya has affected neighbouring republics, particularly Ingushetia and Dagestan, where the frequency of violent incidents has increased in recent years. The situation in Chechnya and the wider North Caucasus remains an issue of importance in our on-going bilateral and EU discussions with Russia. With EU partners, we raised the latest developments in Chechnya with the Russian Government at the EU-Russia Human Rights Consultations on 3 October 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from Russia on co-operation with United Kingdom authorities to address the conflict in Chechnya; and if he will make a statement. (157571)

The Government, with EU partners, regularly discusses the situation in Chechnya with the Russian authorities, including in the context of both UK-Russia and EU-Russia Human Rights Consultations. I welcome the recent commencement of the €20 million technical assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States Programme, agreed under the UK’s EU presidency in 2005, which demonstrates that Russia and the international community are willing to work together to address the root causes of instability which drive conflict in the region. Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, we are working with local partners in the region, among other things, to build capacity and conflict awareness among local officials, police and other law enforcement bodies, as well as to help train Russian prison officers.