On 16 April 2009, after 15 years of the conflict which cost over 100 000 lives, Russia declared an end to its “anti-terrorist operations in Chechnya” intended to pave the way for the withdrawal of the Russian troops.
At the same time, the President of the Chechen Republic, Mr Kadyrov declared that political normalisation could not be achieved without the involvement of Mr Zakayev, the leader of the opposition in exile. In July, the political dialogue was opened and the first meeting took place between Mr Zakayev and the chairman of the Chechen Parliament. The idea of the World Chechen Congress for reconciliation which would gather representatives from the Chechen authorities, the Russian authorities, the rebel movement and the diaspora, has also been launched.
However, despite these positive developments, the situation in the region remains most worrying. Armed clashes between the rebels and the army persist in Chechnya. Moreover, as a direct consequence of the conflict in Chechnya, in recent years violence flared up in the neighbouring regions of Dagestan and Ingoushetia. According to official reports between January and March 2009, almost 50 people were killed in fighting in Ingushetia. Fighting and other incidents take place on a daily basis.
The continuous violation of the rule of law and the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic remain matters of the greatest concern. Human rights groups have documented numerous allegations of extrajudicial executions, acts of torture and kidnapping by Chechen law enforcement and security agencies.
Recent killings of human rights activists involved in the documentation of human rights abuses clearly show an atmosphere of impunity in the North Caucasus. This situation cannot continue and needs immediate reaction.
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine the political situation in the North Caucasus and identify ways in which it could contribute to the political dialogue aimed at increasing democratic stability in accordance with Council of Europe standards.