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Europe

Patten Calls on Russia to Enter Chechen Dialogue

External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten has warned that Russia risks lengthening the crisis in Chechnya through corruption, electoral manipulation and absence of dialogue.

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said that efforts to rebuild the region are only the start. "This is the start of a very long journey, which will only be lengthened by the siphoning off of reconstruction funds by corrupt officials, the apparent manipulation of elections, a failure to protect human rights and the absence of dialogue." Patten also called on the Russian government to "put in place a leadership in Chechnya in which the population of Chechnya has confidence." Moscow has refused to openly negotiate with Chechen leaders, instead talking to General Alu Alkhanov, the Moscow backed candidate who won what many consider to be rigged elections last Month. The commissioner's comments are his most critical to date and will no doubt receive a cool response in the Kremlin. (EUobserver.com)

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