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Chechnya: Danish Police Arrest Separatist Official

Copenhagen, 30 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Danish police today arrested Akhmed Zakaev (pictured*), a high-ranking Chechen separatist official, at the request of Russian authorities who suspect him of terrorism. Zakaev was in Copenhagen to attend the World Chechen Congress as the envoy for Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov.

He is due to appear in court later today for a hearing. Police said Russia has asked for his extradition.

The Russian authorities suspect Zakaev of helping to plan the hostage-taking incident in Moscow last week, as well as a series of terrorist actions since 1996.

One hundred seventeen hostages died in the Moscow incident, all but two from the effects of a gas used by Russian special forces to overpower the hostage takers. Forty one hostage takers were shot dead.

Moscow has denounced the Chechen congress, which ended yesterday in Copenhagen, and President Vladimir Putin canceled his planned state visit to Denmark next month in protest.

*The file photo of Zakaev is from 1996.