Oval Office visit with Russian war criminal was the White House’s idea.
A controversial Russian general linked to atrocities in Chechnya said Monday that his meeting with US President George W. Bush was organized by the White House and caught him by surprise.
“The itinerary of my visit (to the United States) did not include a meeting with the American president and the invitation to the White House was a surprise,” Vladimir Chamanov told the Interfax news agency.
His visit to the White House on March 27 lasted 10 to 15 minutes and “George Bush said he was satisfied with our commission’s work”, Chamanov said, adding that Iraq and Chechnya were not mentioned.
He said the uproar about the meeting was “proof that some people don’t want to recognize Russia’s success in fighting international terrorism in Chechnya… and its continuing efforts to stabiliser the northern Caucasus.”
The White House has since admitted that Bush would have been “unlikely” to sit down with Chamanov if he had known about allegations tying the general to the massacre of Chechen civilians.
Human Rights Watch noted the general was “implicated in serious human rights violations, including the murder of civilians in the villages of Alkhan-Yurt in 1999 and Katyr-Yurt in 2000… and the torture of prisoners in 2000.”
In Alkhan-Yurt, southwest of Grozny, Chamanov’s troops killed 42 people in December 1999, according to witness statements taken by AFP at the time.