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Acting Premier Bans Danish Groups From Chechnya

Ramzan Kadyrov (file photo) (epa) 7 February 2006 -- The acting prime minister of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has said Danish groups will no longer be allowed in Russia's restive southern republic because of the publication of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Kadyrov, in televised comments late on 6 February, said Danish groups will no longer be let into Chechnya because Denmark, where the cartoons were initially printed, has offended Muslims' religious beliefs.

"They are playing with the feelings of 1.5 billion people," he said. "This is the most sensitive spot for Muslims in the world. I think the whole world and its leaders should express their opinion about this so it will not happen again. It is frightening even to speak about it. They should answer and apologize to the whole world."

Correspondents say Kadyrov's decision could affect the Danish Refugee Council, one of the largest aid groups working in the North Caucasus.

Arne Vaagen of the Refugee Council said the group has not been contacted by Chechen or Russian authorities and is trying to determine what impact the announcement will have.

Russian human rights activist Svetlana Ganushkina said many people would remain without aid if Danish organizations are really denied access to Chechnya. There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin.

(Interfax, AP, AFP)

Crisis In Chechnya

Crisis In Chechnya

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