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Red Cross head would not debate use of chemicals
Written by ИТАР-ТАСС   
Среда, 06 Ноябрь 2002

HEAD OF RED CROSS IN MOSCOW REFUSED TO TAKE PART IN CONTROVERSY ON CHEMICALS USED IN MOSCOW.


Swiss national Michel Minnig, head of the Moscow branch of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that he was unwilling to “engage in polemics” concerning the special substances used to neutralize terrorists during the hostage crisis at the Dubrovka theatrical center. At a press conference in Geneva today, he stated: “It is not in our competence to either approve or disapprove of any decision that may be made in such a situation.”

Minnig stressed that during the hostage crisis, he and his colleagues pursued purely humanitarian objectives, not political ones. In reference to the hostage rescue operation, he said that although the ICRC is concerned about the number of casualties, at the same time it is very glad that an overwhelming number of hostages survived.


Asked whether the special gas used to neutralize the terrorists was in compliance or non-compliance with humanitarian law, the Red Cross representative said: “this is a very complicated issue, because it is regulated by international conventions.” Minnig said that a few days ago, on the eve of his departure from the Russian capital to Geneva, he initiated discussions with Russian authorities, and asked for explanations. He commended the response from the Russian side: “The debate continues, and this is positive. The fact that this subject is being discussed speaks of the desire on the part of the authorities to share ideas and information with the ICRC.” “It is important that we have dialogue, not just on this issue, but on all matters relating to compliance with international humanitarian law,” said the head of the ICRC office.


Michel Minnig reported that the ICRC did not have access to any arrested members of the group that took hostages, if any indeed survived. He said that the ICRC, in accordance with its humanitarian mandate, would desire such access.


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