Russia seeks UN terror listing for Chechens

Posted in Russia | 25-Sep-04 | Source: Guardian

Sergey Lavrov, left, foreign minister of Russia, and Colin Powell, United States secretary of state, shake hands at the United Nations Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004.

Russia today asked the UN to extend its list of international terrorists to include Chechen rebels.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, urged the international community to treat the rebels in the same way it treats al-Qaida operatives.

"Those who slaughtered children in Beslan and hijacked aeroplanes to attack America are creatures of the same breed," he said in a forceful speech to the UN general assembly.

"Harbouring terrorists, their henchmen and sponsors undermines the unity and mutual trust of parties to the anti-terrorist front, serves as a justification for their actions and actually encourages them to commit similar crimes in other countries," he added.

Russia also circulated a draft security council resolution that stressed the need for the 15 member nations to "cooperate fully" in tracking down the perpetrators and organisers of terrorist attacks.

The proposed text would ask the committee that monitors what governments are doing to fight terrorism to consider ways of creating a new list of "individuals, groups and entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities".

The list would be separate from the one setting out sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban, which was drawn up in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US, according to a copy obtained by the Associated Press.

The draft resolution also asked the committee to consider punishments including travel bans, freezing financial assets and "expedited extradition of anyone named in the list".

The US was reviewing the proposal, said the secretary of state, Colin Powell, who met Mr Lavrov yesterday.

The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, supported the initiative and said Britain would "work closely" with Russia on the wording to prevent terrorists from abusing asylum status. Russia has denounced countries for granting asylum to Chechen leaders it has linked to violence.

"We cannot let terrorists exploit a protection designed for the persecuted, not the persecutors," Mr Straw said. However, he stressed that no EU member state would return suspects to face the death penalty.

UN diplomats said the resolution was likely to be formally introduced today. Mr Lavrov did not single out any countries in his speech but Russia was particularly upset by the granting of British refugee status to Akhmed Zakayev, an envoy for the Chechen rebel leader, Aslan Maskhadov, and US asylum to Ilyas Akhmadov, whom Mr Maskhadov named as his foreign minister while he was Chechnya's president in 1999.

The development comes about three weeks after militants staged a series of attacks in Russia, including the hostage crisis at a school in Beslan, in which more than 330 people were killed.

Associated Press