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Russian Human Rights Commissioner Resigns

President Boris Yeltsin on Saturday accepted the resignation of his human rights commissioner, a man who braved bombs and bullets to dramatize Russia’s brutal war in Chechnya.

Sergei Kovalyov, an outspoken foe of the war against Chechen separatists, had offered his resignation last week, citing the president’s “final recoil from the policy of democratic reforms.”

Up to 30,000 people - most of them civilians - have died so far in the war and around 600,000 have been displaced.

Kovalyov defied Russian bombs, bullets and artillery to remain in Grozny, the Chechen capital, during the long Russian siege last winter.

He huddled in freezing basements along with terrified residents of Grozny, emerging to bear witness to the indiscriminate bombing and artillery that claimed thousands of lives.

His advocacy won him enemies among Russia’s hard-liners, some of whom suggested he be prosecuted for treason.

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