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Amnesty Notes Human Rights Abuse in Former Soviet Republics,  Former Yugoslavia

Human rights group Amnesty International says it has documented a number of human rights abuses in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, including Russia and the Balkans.

In its annual human rights report, London-based Amnesty International says human rights abuses occur most prominently in areas that have recently seen political or armed conflict, such as the former Soviet republics and the former Yugoslavia.

The report says Russian law enforcement officers are particularly abusive, carrying out unlawful executions, torture, and disappearances in their struggle against armed rebels in Russia's southern republic of Chechnya. Amnesty calls prison conditions in Russia "cruel, inhuman, and degrading."

Amnesty says authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia-Montenegro have failed to address impunity for war crimes in the region, which saw armed conflict through much of the 1990s. It also singles out for criticism NATO peace-keeping troops in the internationally-administered province of Kosovo, for arresting and detaining people without warrants.

A number of Eastern European and Central Asian governments, including those in Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Turkmenistan, the report says, have condoned ill-treatment and possible torture of detainees.

Amnesty says ethnic minorities, foreigners, and citizens of immigrant backgrounds have been targeted for abuse throughout Europe, including a wave of racist attacks against Jews and Arabs in Western Europe.