Russia tops US for prisoner abuse

Russian troops in Chechnya often subject prisoners to the kind of abuse and torture that caused outrage when committed by US soldiers in Iraq.

    A third of a million Chechens have been killed in a decade

    The only difference is that their actions go unreported, says Russian human rights activist Andrei Babitski on Monday.

    Speaking at a news conference in Vienna to mark World Press Freedom Day, the activist condemned western media coverage.

    "Even murders are committed every day by Russian soldiers in Chechnya, but it is not reported either by the Russian press or by Western newspapers."

    A former correspondent for Radio Liberty in Chechnya, Babitski was arrested by Russian troops in 2000 and now works for Radio Free Europe in Prague.

    Real reporting?

    He said that in Russia "practically all the electronic media are under the control of the state authorities.

    "Press freedom is restricted to a few rare newspapers, essentially in Moscow, which do not worry the Kremlin because their circulations are so small."

    There are currently about 1000 reporters in Chechnya, but only four of them are independent and they are working illegally without Kremlin approval, he said.

    "That gives you a sense of the proportion of free to state-controlled media in Russia."

    SOURCE: AFP


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