February 24, 2000

Senator Paul D. WELLSTONE submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to RESOLUTION Entitled the `Peaceful Resolution of the Conflict' in Chechnya.

Whereas the people of Chechnya are exercising the legitimate right of self-defense against the indiscriminate use of force by the Government of the Russian Federation;

Whereas the Government of the Russian Federation has used disproportionate force in the bombings of civilian targets in Chechnya which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and the displacement of well over 250,000 others;

Whereas the Government of the Russian Federation has refused to engage in negotiations with the Chechen resistance toward a just peace and instead has charged Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov with armed mutiny and issued a warrant for his arrest;

Whereas Russian authorities deny access to regions in and around Chechnya by the international community, including officials of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe, and maintain a virtual ban on access to Chechen civilians by media and international humanitarian organizations, including the International Federation of the Red Cross;

Whereas these restrictions severely limited the ability of these organizations to ascertain the extent of the humanitarian crisis and to provide humanitarian relief;

Whereas even limited testimony and general investigation by international organizations credibly report widespread looting, summary executions, detentions, denial of safe passage to fleeing civilians, torture and rape committed by Russian soldiers;

Whereas there are credible reports of specific atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Chechnya, including the rampages in Alkhan-Yurt where 17 persons were killed in December 1999 and in the Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny where 44 persons were killed in December 1999; and the rapes of Chechen prisoners in the Chernokosovo detention camp; Whereas these credible reports indicate clear violations of international human rights standards and law that must be investigated, and those responsible must be held accountable;

Whereas United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson proposed on February 20, 2000, the prosecution of Russian military commanders for overseeing `executions, tortures, and rapes'; and

Whereas the Senate expresses its concern over the conflict and humanitarian tragedy in Chechnya, and its desire for a peaceful resolution and durable settlement to the conflict:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that

(1) the Government of the Russian Federation:

(A) immediately cease its military operations in Chechnya and initiate negotiations toward a just peace with the leadership of the Chechen Government, including President Aslan Maskhadov;

(B) allow into and around Chechnya international missions to monitor and report on the situation there and to investigate alleged atrocities and war crimes;

(C) allow international humanitarian agencies immediate full and unimpeded access to Chechen civilians, including those in refugee, detention and so called `filtration camps' or any other facility where citizens of Chechnya are detained; and

(D) investigate fully the atrocities committed in Chechnya including those alleged in Alkhan-Yurt, and Grozny, and initiate prosecutions against those officers and soldiers accused; and

(2) the President of the United States of America:

(A) should promote peace negotiations between the Government of the Russian Federation and the leadership of the Chechen Government, including President Aslan Maskhadov, through third party mediation by the OSCE, United Nations or other appropriate parties;

(B) endorse the call of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for an investigation of alleged war crimes committed by the Russian military in Chechnya; and

(C) should take tangible steps to demonstrate to the Government of the Russian Federation that the United States strongly condemns its brutal conduct in Chechnya and its unwillingness to find a just political solution to the conflict in Chechnya.