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The Council of Europe's human rights chief arrived in Chechnya
The Council of Europe's human rights chief arrived in Chechnya on a three-day working visit on Monday to assess the situation in the southern Russian republic.

"I visited your republic over a year ago, and I have heard much of positive changes in the human rights sphere over the time. The goal of my visit is to make sure of this progress in person," Thomas Hammarberg told the press at Grozny airport.

During his visit Hammarberg will meet with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, local human rights ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhiyev and non-governmental groups.

He said he would also meet with members of the public to get an objective assessment of the human rights situation in the republic.

Chechnya, a mountainous Russian republic in the Russian North Caucasus, saw two separatist wars in the 1990s-early 2000s. Thousands of people were killed and the republic's capital, Grozny, was almost completely destroyed.

Although the active phase of the war is over, sporadic clashes with militants and terrorist attacks are common in the troubled republic, as well as in adjacent republics such as Ingushetia and Daghestan.

Since becoming president of Chechnya in February 2007, Kadyrov has overseen a period of relative calm in the republic, despite continuing allegations by human rights groups of torture and intimidation by local security forces.


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