Committee representative Ida Kuklina said in Moscow on Tuesday that she was "looking for points that we have in common, and right now we are looking for a multilateral mechanism for resolving the conflict".

  

"We are hoping that Europe will take part in trying to resolve the war," she said.

  

"European institutions up until now have used the Chechen conflict as a means to put pressure on the government, but this has not been enough. We need to resolve the conflict itself," Kuklina said.

 

The group met last week in London with Ahmad Zakayev, a spokesman for the separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who is currently in hiding.

 

'Unpatriotic view'

  

The talks were criticised by Russia, which does not view Zakayev as a legitimate negotiating partner, and has further questioned the soldiers' mothers committee for what it calls an unpatriotic view of the Russian military.

  

"We are hoping that Europe will take part in trying to resolve the war"

Ida Kuklina,
Russian soldiers' mothers' committee representative

The group on Monday said that Russian tax authorities had announced plans to inspect the its books for any improprieties, and link the inspection to its decision to meet with Zakayev.

  

Russia has held only one, unproductive round of talks with the separatists, and has since installed its own government in the republic which is not recognised by the separatists.

  

Moscow demands the separatists' unconditional surrender, while rebels have vowed to wage their war until Russian forces leave the tiny, predominantly Muslim republic.

  

The committee further questioned the official Russian toll figure from the war, which stands at under 5000 soldiers killed, saying that the true toll may be three times higher.