Poland detains wanted Chechen leader

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September 17, 2010 14:12

Akhmed Zakayev being taken to the prosecution headquarters in Warsaw. Photo - Reuters

Who: Polish government.

What: Police in Poland arrested Akhmed Zakayev, an exiled Chechen rebel leader, who arrived in the country to take part in a pro-independence congress of Chechens. The 51-year-old separatist leader fought the two 1994-96 and 1999-2000 wars against Russia as a senior rebel commander. The former actor-turned politician was the official spokesman for late Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov when granted asylum by Britain in 2003.

Where: The arrest took place in Warsaw while he was on his way to the congress venue in Pultusk, 60km north of the capital.

When: The Chechen exile was detained by plain-clothed officials on Friday morning.

Why: “Because there was an international arrest warrant, police were under an obligation to detain him and to take him to prosecutors,” a police spokesman told the media. He added that the courts will decide the next action. Russia wants the Chechen leader on charges of armed rebellion, murder and kidnapping, that dates back to the 1994 and 1999 wars between Moscow and Chechen separatists.

How: Akhmed Zakayev is well-known for his abilities on and off the war field. His fighters captured Grozny from Russian troops in a surprise attack in August, 1996. The Chechen leader played a key role in the end of the first Russia-Chechnya war in 1996 when he negotiated with Russian interior minister Alexander Lebed and signed a peace deal. Mr. Zakayev is respected by many for his moderate, pro-independence stance for Chechnya and his rejection of al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism.

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