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Russia Warns West Not To Interfere In Chechnya

Sergei Lavrov (file photo) 9 September 2004 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today warned Western nations not to interfere with Russia's policies in Chechnya.

Lavrov ruled out any suggestion of holding negotiations with Chechen separatist leaders and criticized countries that offer political asylum to these leaders.

"When our Western partners are calling on us to reconsider our [Chechnya] policy, calling it tactics, I would perhaps advise them not to stand in Russia's way while it's dealing with its own internal affairs. And some of them stand in the way by giving political asylum to terrorists directly responsible for the tragedy of the Chechen people," Lavrov said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today repeated a warning made by the chief of Russia's General Staff, General Yurii Baluevskii, yesterday that Russia could use preemptive strikes to prevent terrorist threats originating outside Russian territory.

Ivanov said such strikes were not only possible but fully justified to protect the country and its people. Ivanov made clear Russia had no intention of using nuclear weapons, but he added no warning of an impending attack would be given either.

Also today, North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov fired his government amid widespread anger at officials' failings in the school hostage crisis in Beslan.


Factbox: Major Terrorist Incidents Tied To Russian-Chechen War

For full coverage on the recent wave of terror attacks in Russia, see RFE/RL's webpage on "Terror In Russia".

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