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European Court Finds Russia Responsible for Chechnya Killings

On July 26, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously found the Russian government responsible for 11 killings that took place in a suburb of the Chechen city of Grozny in February 2000. The killings were part of a massacre by Russian riot police and contract soldiers during a sweep operation several days after Russian forces had taken control of the neighborhood. Human Rights Watch first documented the killings in 2000 and has since repeatedly brought them to the attention of the authorities and the international community as a stunning failure by the Russian government to ensure justice for atrocities committed in Chechnya.

The court's ruling used unusually strong language to condemn this failure, declaring that "the astonishing ineffectiveness of the prosecuting authorities in this case could only be qualified as acquiescence in the events." In a separate case issued the same day, the court found the Russian government responsible for two forced disappearances that occurred in Chechnya in August 2000. Human Rights Watch documented and exposed both cases in our 2001 report on the widespread use of disappearances, torture, and summary executions in Chechnya.

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