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VI. An Evaluation of the Russian Federations Actions in Accordance with International Law and Russian Legislation.1

The above-mentioned actions of the armed forces of the RF and officials of federal organs of the RF qualify as the use of hostages which is a serious violation of international human rights both with respect to international and non-international conflicts.

The authors of this report, viewing the military action in Chechnya as an armed conflict of a non-international nature, believe that the defense of war victims should be guaranteed in strict agreement with Article 3, a part of all the Geneva Conventions since August 12, 1949, as well as the Second Additional Protocol to the Conventions. In addition to this, both sides of an armed conflict should respect all other norms for engaging in war.

Article 3 applies to an armed conflict of a non-international character which takes place on the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties,2 and Article 4 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention3 which explicitly prohibits the taking of hostages. In the present conflict, there has been a serious violation of these articles.

In both Samashki and in Grozny (Municipal Hospital #9 and Military Compound #15), servicemen4 of the Russian forces infringed upon the lives, physical inviolability and health of civilians who were not involved in the military action. Such an infringement is prohibited by the above-mentioned articles.

In Samashki and in Grozny, civilians were the objects of attacks and hence, Russian servicemen violated Part 2 of Article 13 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention which states that neither the civilian population as a whole nor individual civilians should be the object of an attack.

According to the Second Additional Protocol, all the wounded and sick, whether or not they took part in the armed conflict, should be respected and defended and, under all circumstances, they must be treated humanely and offered evacuation and medical assistance in the greatest possible capacity and in the shortest possible time (Article 7); Medical personnel should be respected and defended and they should be given all the possible help so that they may fulfill their duties (Article 9); Medical formations (as well as civilian formations) should be respected and defended and must not be the object of an attack (Article 11)." The actions of the servicemen of the Russian forces at Municipal Hospital #9 in Grozny contradict these articles.

The taking of hostages and the use of human shields is such a gross disregard for civilized norms that it is difficult to evaluate these actions from the point of view of international human rights agreements. Nonetheless, it is possible to ascertain that in both Samashki and in Grozny (in Municipal Hospital #9 and at Military Compound #15) servicemen of the Russian forces violated Article 6 of the International Pact on civil and political rights,5 which proclaims the right to live as the inalienable right of each person as well as the fact that nobody can be arbitrarily deprived of life. Hostages were threatened with death; the lives of those who were used as part of a human shield were put in serious danger; there is evidence to believe that in at least one incident, a hostage (A. Ptykhin) was executed.

The hostages as well as those used in human shields were subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment which is prohibited by Article 7 of the international Pact.

People were subjected to arbitrary detainment which violates Article 9 of this Pact.

The above described actions of servicemen of the RF are criminally punishable in accordance with the Criminal Code of the RF. They fall under the following definition given in Article 126.1 (The Taking of Hostages) of the Criminal Code of the RF: The seizure or detainment of individuals as hostages, in conjunction with the threat to kill, cause bodily harm or prolong the detainment of that individual with the intention of forcing the government, an international organization, a legal entity, individual or group of individuals to engage in or refrain from engaging in an activity as a condition for the freeing of the hostage... However, for servicemen committing the same act, Article 267 (Chapter 12  War Crimes) of the Criminal Code of the RF is applied: Violence to the population in the region of military action.

The actions mentioned above were committed under aggravating circumstances: with respect to the helpless (the sick and wounded) Article 39 Point 5 of the Criminal Code of the RF; with dangerous methods (subjecting civilians to the possibility of death by using them as human shields in the areas where military action is taking place)  Article 39 Point 9 of the Criminal Code of the RF; with particular cruelty (subjecting children to dangerous situations in the presence of their mothers) Article 39 Point 7 of the Criminal Code of the RF.

In a legal sense, there was no necessity in the actions of the Russian soldiers. In accordance with Article 14 of the Criminal Code of the RF, an action is only considered necessary if the injury that was caused is less than that which might have been if the action was not undertaken. In the given cases, although the Russian soldiers at times found themselves without weapons, they should not have saved their own lives at the expense of the lives of dozens of civilians who were in no way guilty of anything. The harm that they caused was by no means less than the harm which they may have prevented by their actions.

In an evaluation of the above-mentioned actions of the soldiers of the armed forces of the RF and of the federal organs of the RF, it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that they committed them under orders from their superiors. Furthermore, the seizure of Municipal Hospital #9 and the taking of hostages in Military Compound #15 occured either under the direct orders of a superior officer or at least with his knowledge.

The recording of radio transmissions which were played on the program, Vzglyad on September 6, 1996, proves that in at least one incident, the Head Management of the MIA RF gave the direct order to those servicemen under their control to take civilians hostage or to use them as human shields.

The taking of hostages and the use of human shields in Chechnya by servicemen of the armed forces of the RF and officials of the federal organs of the RF was not an isolated incident; rather it was the norm.

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