- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2000

Pursuing war criminals

The U.S. ambassador for the investigation of war crimes yesterday warned Russia that it could lose international respect if it ignores new reports of atrocities in Chechnya.

Ambassador David Scheffer also demanded the prosecution of a Rwandan genocide suspect and congratulated Indonesia for pursuing accusations of abuses in East Timor.

Mr. Scheffer, speaking to reporters in Geneva, said Moscow must "properly and thoroughly investigate in a transparent way the allegations" that Russian troops killed 62 civilians in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on Feb. 5.

The accusations were raised by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

"It is unfortunate that international observers have not been able to be in Chechnya to undertake their own investigations," Mr. Scheffer said.

He warned that Russia risks losing "international credibility," but that "a way to turn this around is to launch credible investigations."

Mr. Scheffer also called for the prosecution of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, a Rwandan who was released by the U.N. war crimes tribunal on the grounds he was held too long in custody before being charged with a crime.

He is suspected of encouraging Hutus to massacre Tutsis in 1994.

"Barayagwiza must not be allowed to walk free," Mr. Scheffer said.

"We very much hope that the tribunal will find a way to continue its prosecution of Barayagwiza."

Mr. Scheffer praised Indonesia for its efforts to investigate charges of atrocities committed by pro-Indonesian militias after voters in East Timor approved a referendum for independence in September.

"We believe [the Indonesians] are on that track right now. It is very encouraging to us how solidly they are on that track right now," he added.

Holocaust sculptor

The reception yesterday at the Russian ambassador's residence was more than a routine diplomatic cocktail party for the arts.

It was a tribute to those who saved Jews from Nazi Germany and featured an artist who had been exiled from the Soviet Union and a former Israeli agent who helped capture the fugitive Nazi war criminal, Adolph Eichmann.

"By this exhibition, we certainly pay tribute to the talent and courage of Mikhail Chemiakin," Ambassador Yuri V. Ushakov said of the sculptor, "but ultimately, it is our homage to the endurance of human spirit, love and compassion."

Mr. Chemiakin, who became a U.S. citizen in 1989, is exhibiting two of his works, "The Courage of Truth" and "To the Righteous of the World," which are displayed in the front yard of the ambassador's residence on 16th Street NW.

"The universal tragedies of war and cruelty from which humankind has suffered unspeakably in the 20th century have become one of the central themes in the art of Mikhail Chemiakin," Mr. Ushakov said.

"The concept of the project, 'To the Righteous of the World,' brings us to the horrors of the Holocaust and to the memory of those brave men and women who risked their lives for the sake of the persecuted."

The reception featured Peter Malkin, part of the Israeli secret service team that captured Eichmann in 1959 in Buenos Aires. He is also the author of several books on anti-terrorism. The ambassador also introduced Leonid Nakhodkin, president of the United Humanitarian Mission of San Francisco, who has promoted Mr. Chemiakin's works.

Albright visits Czechs

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will be visiting the land of her birth when she travels to the Czech Republic next month.

In Prague, Mrs. Albright will join celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Tomas Masaryk, the first president of the former Czechoslovakia.

On her March 5-8 visit, she will also meet President Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan.

Mrs. Albright was a baby when her diplomat father fled from the Nazis, who had put him on a death list. She returned with her family after World War II but was forced out in 1948 by the Communists.

She is due to stop first in Portugal on March 3 for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and European foreign ministers.

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