The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has formally proposed a bill to parliament offering an amnesty to separatist rebels in Chechnya. He promised the move earlier this year after Chechens approved a new constitution recognising that their republic was “an integral and inseparable” part of the Russian Federation. In the past three days, there have been two suicide bomb attacks in Chechnya, leaving more than 70 people dead. The amnesty would not cover anyone guilty of murder, kidnapping, rape, armed robbery or other especially serious crimes, nor foreigners fighting for the rebels. It would however apply to Russian troops as well as rebels, which has prompted criticisms that it could be used to cover up human rights abuses by federal soldiers. Thousands of Russian troops are stationed in the republic, where they continue to conduct operations against remaining rebel fighters in mountain retreats. Full Story
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