FT: Chechen groups to join terror list
- EUROPE: Chechen groups to join terror list
By Andrew Jack in Moscow
Financial Times; Jan 31, 2003
The US is likely to add several Chechen rebel groups to its list of
foreign terrorist organisations, in a fresh sign of co-operation
between Washington and Moscow as negotiations continue over the
crisis in Iraq.
The move, which could trigger travel restrictions and asset-freezing
orders from the US, comes as Russia succeeded this week in diluting a
resolution criticising its policy in Chechnya at the Council of
Europe, the inter-governmental human rights organisation, in
A senior US diplomat said yesterday: "We think that there are Chechen
groups that meet the criteria for designation as terrorist
"We are moving towards a decision that will probably result in two or
three Chechen groups being designated terrorist organisations, while
we continue to look at others."
His comments reflect previous indications of sympathy for the idea
from the US administration, and despite concerns last weekend from
Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, that Washington was
engaging in "double standards" by resisting its demands to add
Chechen fighters to the list.
Russia has long attempted to brush off foreign criticism of its
hardline approach in Chechnya against a backdrop of allegations of
human rights abuse. It has rejected calls for political negotiations
with rebel leaders and argued that the conflict is part of the
broader struggle against international terrorism.
Moscow says five of the 19 men who hijacked US aircraft on September
11 2001 had previously fought in Chechnya. It points to growing
international signs that al-Qaeda operatives were based in
neighbouring Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.
Russia argues that it has launched a political resolution in Chechnya
through a referendum on a new constitution on March 23.
Lord Judd, who led a delegation from the Council of Europe to
Chechnya last week, called on Moscow to postpone the referendum,
calling it "meaningless" in the present circumstances.