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Russian Duma Criticizes Hague Tribunal on Yugoslavia - 2002-02-15

Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has passed a resolution condemning the war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic as a "political" court. The lawmakers condemned The Hague tribunal for failing to charge NATO countries with atrocities during the 1999 air war against Yugoslavia.

The Duma voted 316-6 in favor of the resolution, which labeled The Hague tribunal as "biased" and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask the U.N. Security Council to place a time limit on its activities.

According to the resolution, The Hague tribunal is ignoring serious violations of international law made by NATO during its "aggression" against Yugoslavia, and it said the tribunal has refused to hold NATO heads of state responsible for their actions there.

The resolution is non-binding, and most observers here do not expect Mr. Putin will act on it.

The Moscow government denounced the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia and froze relations with the alliance. Many Russians believe the Atlantic alliance in general, and the United States in particular, should be prosecuted for the civilian deaths suffered in the bombing.

NATO said its 11-week campaign was aimed at stopping a crackdown by Yugoslav forces against the ethnic-Albanian majority in Kosovo.

The measure, which passed Friday, also criticized The Hague tribunal for "failing to take a stand against the activities of the Albanian extremists and terrorists in Kosovo."

A more toughly worded version, authored by nationalist legislator Vladimir Zhirinovsky, did not pass. That resolution said Yugoslavia was the victim of a dirty political provocation. It described the trial of Mr. Milosevic as illegal and said the former Yugoslav president should be freed.