The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexei II, has accused international human rights organizations of applying "double standards" to Russia's policy in Chechnya. Reacting to recent criticisms of Russia's actions in Chechnya by Mary Robinson, the UN's high commissioner for human rights, and by the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, Patriarch Alexei said: "Those who come to our country from PACE [the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which promotes European unity and safeguards local culture and human rights] or the United Nations, do not see what they don't want to see and do not hear what they don't want to hear."The patriarch was responding on Russian television April 7 to reporters' questions about a decision by PACE to call on the Council of Europe's committee of ministers to suspend Russian membership unless Moscow called a cease-fire and engaged in dialogue with a cross-section of the Chechen people. The parliamentary assembly, whose members are chosen by national parliaments, also suspended the voting rights of the Russian delegation to the assembly."They [Western delegations] see only what has been assigned for them to see, and accuse the Russian government and the Russian army of sins and crimes," Patriarch Alexei said, adding that the West European delegations "did not notice those crimes which have been committed and are committed by the [Chechen] fighters … taking hostages, torturing and killing them."The Council of Europe's actions have deeply angered Russia's political leaders. Although analysts suggest that Russia's expulsion from the council is unlikely—this can be decided only by the Committee of Ministers (made up of the foreign ministers of the council's member states) ...1
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