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Polish Police Vow To Arrest Chechen Rebel Leader

Akhmed Zakayev (file photo)

Akhmed Zakayev (file photo)

Polish police have said they would arrest exiled Chechen rebel leader Akhmed Zakayev if he visits Poland as planned this week.

Zakayev, viewed by Moscow as a terrorist but granted political asylum by Britain in 2003, is due to attend an annual World Chechen Congress in Poland on September 16-17.

Polish police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said that there is an international arrest warrant on Akhmed Zakayev issued by Interpol following a request by Russia.

He said "the police later [will] hand the suspect to the court and the court decides on a potential extradition."

Zakayev, speaking today by cellular phone with RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, said he has already received a visa to travel to Poland.

"I intend to take part in this forum, in the World Chechen Congress that is going to take place in Poland. I am going to fly [to Poland] on the 16th or the 17th [of September]. And I don't have any other official information except that I have received a visa."

The congress brings together Chechen exiles seeking independence Chechnya and opposing its Moscow-installed leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

compiled from Reuters and agency reports