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Georgia Frees Four Chechens Wanted By Russia

6 January 2005 -- Georgia announced that it has started releasing four Chechens arrested in 2002 along Georgia's border with Russia. Moscow had sought to have the four extradited to face charges.

Two from the group were freed from jail today, another yesterday. Georgia's Justice Ministry said the fourth would be released from jail on 18 February.

The four men were arrested in August 2002, as part of a group suspected of belonging to Chechen commander Ruslan Guelaev. Five others arrested at the time were extradited to Russia.

Georgia kept the four, charging and eventually convicting them of illegally crossing the border and carrying firearms.

Russia's Foreign Ministry criticized the release of the four men. The ministry said their release would not contribute to the strengthening of Russian-Georgian relations.


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