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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bush and Shamanov Sitting in a Tree

La Russophobe continues to be disappointed with the Russia policy of U.S. President George Bush. First he "looks into Putin's eyes" and now it's Russian General Vladimir Shamanov's turn. His reputation in history is in serious jeopardy. The Moscow News reports:

Russian human rights groups on Thursday asked U.S. President George W. Bush to explain why he had a White House meeting with a Russian general accused of rights abuses in Chechnya, the Reuters news agency reports. Bush met General Vladimir Shamanov in March as part of a U.S.-Russian commission on missing soldiers. A spokeswoman said it was “unlikely” Bush would have met Shamanov if he had known about the abuse allegations. “The rather vague apologies of the White House don’t seem sufficient in such a grave situation. We hope to hear your own explanation,” said an open letter signed by leaders of 13 Russian human rights groups. “Was that meeting with Shamanov a misunderstanding and a very unfortunate mistake? Or do you believe that ... war crimes and crimes against humanity may remain uninvestigated, and the perpetrators may go unpunished?” “Whether you wanted it or not, the international community received a signal that the leader of a world power ... welcomes a general who is allegedly responsible for war crimes,” said the letter.

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch has accused Shamanov, now retired, of being in charge of a Russian battalion blamed for attacking the Chechen village of Alkhan-Yurt in December 1999, killing 17 civilians. The signatories of the letter included several prominent Russian human rights campaigners. One of the signatories, Tatyana Lokshina, met Bush and told him about rights abuses in Chechnya when the U.S. president visited Russia for a Group of Eight summit last year. The European Court for Human Rights on Thursday awarded a Chechen woman over 50,000 euros ($66,700) in damages to a Chechen woman whose husband disappeared during a security sweep by federal forces in the troubled region.

Publius Pundit has more, including a copy of the photograph.

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