Russia Today
Russian Rights Group filing complaint on reporter's treatment

MOSCOW, Feb 15, 2000 -- (AFP) The head of a Russian human rights group called the Glasnost Fund said Monday he was planning to file a complaint against a Kremlin official over the treatment of Radio Free Europe correspondent Andrei Babitsky.

Russian military officials said they exchanged the journalist, who had been arrested January 18 by federal forces in Grozny, for several Russian soldiers who were being held by Chechen rebels.

Babitsky's whereabouts and condition are unknown and his colleagues and wife fear for his life.

"We have sent the Russian prosecutor general a request to open a criminal case against Sergei Yastrzhembsky (spokesman for acting Russian President Vladimir Putin) on three charges: non-denunciation of the crime, falsification of the evidence, and kidnapping," Sergey Grigoriants, director of the Glasnost Fund, told journalists.

Yastrzhembsky is the Kremlin's spokesman on the Chechen war and was the first to announce that Babitsky had been swapped for Russian prisoners of war.

Glasnost also requested Russia's public prosecutor to look into "the complicity of acting President Vladimir Putin in this criminal affair," Grigoriants said.

The public prosecutor has asked to review the complaint before making a formal decision in the case, Grigoriants said.




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