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25 Apr, 2008 17:31

Russian Caucasus ‘stabilising’: EU Commissioner

Wrapping up his week-long trip to Russia’s Caucasian republics, Human Rights Commissioner for the Council of Europe has noted ‘obvious progress’ there. After the visit Thomas Hammarberg met in Moscow Kremlin with President Vladimir Putin and President-ele

Mr Hammarberg has spent most of this week in the North Caucasus visiting Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia examining the situation in these republics after the recently published report of the Council of Europe which claims that the situation in the North Caucasus is critical and many human rights violations are taking place across the entire area.

At the meeting in Kremlin, Thomas Hammarberg said that there is still a lot of work to be done but it is obvious that all three North Caucasus regions he visited are stabilising and the human rights situation is getting better.

The EU Commissioner also praised the degree of co-operation the Russian authorities have provided to him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia aims to take into the account what the Council of Europe has to say.

“We are trying to respond to the comments made by you and your colleagues. Perhaps not everything is working out as planned, but that is what makes your visit even more valuable and I would be glad to talk with you about this. In any case, we attach great significance to our contact with you and to the work we do with you and with the Council of Europe as a whole,” Putin said.

Meanwhile, analysts say such visits are beneficial to Russia and help improving its image in the West.

“Before Russia was not ready for such visits. Every report of an international official was painfully received. But this is changing now. Visits like this are a lot more helpful to Russia unlike the reports from organisations like Freedom House, for example. Mr  Hammarberg talked to people and said that improvements are evident,” commented Aleksandr Brod, Director of Moscow Human Rights Bureau.