Chechen envoy faces extradition charges in UK

BRITAIN: A senior Chechen envoy, accused by Russia of being a warlord in the breakaway republic, appeared in a London court …

BRITAIN: A senior Chechen envoy, accused by Russia of being a warlord in the breakaway republic, appeared in a London court yesterday for the start of what could be lengthy proceedings to extradite him from Britain.

Mr Akhmed Zakaev (43) was remanded on conditional bail when he appeared before Bow Street magistrates court to face 10 charges, including mass murder and rebellion "contrary to the laws and within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation".

Mr Zakaev arrived at court with his friend and supporter, the actress Vanessa Redgrave. He was arrested last week at Heathrow airport after arriving from Denmark, from where Moscow also tried to extradite him and will appear in court again on January 3rd.

At the latest hearing, the envoy, who was deputy prime minister in the separatist government of Mr Aslan Maskhadov, stood in the dock with a woman translator. He spoke in Russian only to confirm his name, date of birth and that he understood the government of the Russian Federation was requesting his extradition.

He also told the court he understood the allegations, which include "levying war" against Russia, kidnap, attempted murder and the murder of Orthodox priests and more than 300 militia officers.

Earlier at a press conference, Mr Zakaev appealed for the West to intervene in Chechnya.

"The only way that we can solve the situation in Chechnya is if the West, Europe, intervenes - in other words the Kosovo way," he said, flanked by supporters from Amnesty International, the Labour MP, Mr Jeremy Corbyn, and Ms Redgrave. "Europe just has to intervene because only such intervention by western Europe can stop the bloodshed.

"We need a contingent of peacekeeping forces, that is the only realistic way in which we can solve the Russian-Chechen problem today.

"It goes without saying it is only Europe and the European Union that are able to stop the killing and stop the problem.

"The EU is capable of putting on Russia the sort of pressure that would solve this slaughterhouse." Mr Zakaev told the press conference that, if extradited, it would send a message to President Vladmir Putin he had international support to implement his "final solution" for Chechnya.

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