A Furor Over The Torture Tape

The video is about as grisly as it gets: Russian soldiers shoveling dirt into a ditch filled with dead bodies--all Chechen men. Last Thursday a German TV station aired the video and said some of the bodies bore marks that suggested they had been tortured. Coming in the wake of allegations that Russian soldiers have raped, beaten and killed civilians, the film caused an immediate furor. A Russian spokesman denounced it as the "fraud of the year." This week Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human-rights representative of the Council of Europe, will be in Russia to investigate the abuse allegations. He will also be interested to hear from Radio Liberty journalist Andrei Babitsky, who resurfaced last Friday after five weeks in captivity in Chechnya. Babitsky told his wife in a phone call that he was relatively well "but not entirely free." He said he hoped to return to Moscow on Saturday, but that didn't happen.

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