On Monday, President Bush hosted in the Oval Office the co-chairs of a U.S.-Russian commission on missing soldiers. Human rights groups were outraged that Bush agreed to host the Russian chair, Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who has been “accused of overseeing some of the most notorious atrocities against civilians during the brutal second war in Chechnya”:
Russian troops under Shamanov rampaged through the village of Alkhan-Yurt in December 1999, killing 17 civilians, according to human rights investigations. The soldiers looted homes and shot those who got in the way, including a woman over 100 years old. Shamanov threatened to shoot villagers who pleaded with him to halt the “cleansing operation,” investigators found. Rather than prosecute, the Kremlin gave Shamanov a medal — a medal he appeared to wear to the Oval Office.
According to spokeswoman Dana Perino, the White House had no idea that Shamanov was responsible for the brutal killings of civilians:
The president was not aware of the allegations made against (Shamanov) and he was seeking to sharpen the focus on the commissions good work.
She added that it was “unlikely” the meeting would have taken place had he been aware. But in a quick Google search of “Vladimir Shamanov,” references to the general’s role in the killings come up on the first page. Also, even though Bush “posed for pictures” with both Shamanov and the American chair of the commission, the “White House did not play up the officers’ appearance in the Oval Office” and it is not mentioned on the White House’s website on March 26.
So either the White House is not vetting the guests who visit the President in the Oval Office, or it knowingly invited a mass murderer and tried to bury the story.