These should include an end to his storm-trooper tactics, full and free access to aid groups wishing to work in the country and an insistence that a thorough investigation into human rights abuses occurs.In November last year, the EU gave the impression it had agreed to tone down its criticism of Moscow over Chechnya as the price of a deal on the future of Russia’s Baltic enclave Kaliningrad. The Union’s representatives should not convey that impression once again; instead they ought to ensure that Chechnya does not become a forgotten conflict. We have heard much talk in recent months about how the Union is based on values such as human rights and democracy; Greece’s EU presidency even refers to ‘values’ in its official motto. Chechnya provides the perfect opportunity to prove whether the Union’s values are solid or flimsy. Moscow’s official reaction to Le Monde’s story was predictable. Russia’s Deputy Prosecutor-General Sergey Fridinskiy accused the paper of “clearly biased data selection”, adding: “It is just absurd when they say that over 100 civilians died as a result of extrajudicial executions in Chechnya each month.”Russian attempts to deny responsibility for human rights abuses in Chechnya have to be treated with extreme caution. The fact of the matter is that the wider world doesn’t know exactly what’s been happening in that part of the Caucasus since the conflict erupted in October 1999. Estimates of the ensuing death toll vary widely – figures of 50,000 and 100,000 have been cited. And Russia has skilfully exploited the post 11 September 2001 fight against terrorism to justify its campaign in Chechnya, portraying it as an assault on Islamic fundamentalism.The reasons behind the confusion are simple. Independent observers – journalists, human rights groups, even UN officials – have been hampered from probing events in Chechnya either because they have been denied territorial access or because of threats to their security.On 8 April a motion berating Russian tactics in Chechnya was tabled by the EU-15 to the UN’s Commission on Human Rights. Unfortunately, the motion was rejected by this body yesterday (16 April).Despite that setback, the EU’s stance is to be applauded. But it cannot be a stand-alone measure; it has to be part of a strategy by which the Union’s chief representatives will continue pressing President Vladimir Putin to meet certain demands on Chechnya until he verifiably does so. Four weeks after the first bombs rained down on Baghdad, the round-the-clock coverage of events in the Gulf still makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else. It is a tragedy, then, that disturbing new evidence about another conflict has gone largely unnoticed.Last weekend Le Monde published excerpts from a report which Chechnya’s pro-Russian administration had sent to Moscow. According to the French daily, this stated that Russian troops stationed in the mainly Muslim republic killed 1,314 civilians in 2002. Furthermore, it contains macabre details about 2,879 corpses discovered in mass graves across Chechnya. One such grave unearthed in Grozny’s central cemetery contained 260 bodies.