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Chechen Exiles Hint At Talks With Moscow-Backed Leadership

Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakaev (file photo)

Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakaev (file photo)

LONDON -- There are signs that the leaders of the Chechen separatist government in exile and Chechnya's pro-Moscow leadership might hold unprecedented meetings in the near future, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The chairman of the Chechen exile government, Akhmed Zakaev, told an RFE/RL correspondent in London that the talks would be aimed at finding a political solution to the situation in the conflict-weary North Caucasus.

Zakaev said he was ready to meet with "anyone," whether Russians or Chechen officials supported by the Kremlin, in an effort to resolve tensions and fighting that have lasted for centuries.

Zakaev insists that the last open and democratic elections held in Chechnya came 12 years ago and that he represents the government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria that was created in accordance with the Constitution of Chechnya.

Zakaev added that all existing groups of Chechen politicians both inside and outside Chechnya should gather and discuss the situation.

He claimed that Chechen's Kremlin-backed president, Ramzan Kadyrov, is being used by Moscow to deepen the crisis and keep it seen as an "internal Chechen conflict."