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Russia: Moscow Alleges Zakaev's Terrorist Links

Moscow, 5 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia today handed over to Denmark more evidence of alleged terrorist acts carried out by Akhmed Zakaev (pictured*), a top Chechen envoy now detained in Denmark. Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov gave the evidence to Danish Justice Minister Lene Espersen, who said she would examine it quickly. Espersen had said Danish officials did not have enough evidence to decide whether to extradite Zakaev, who was detained at Russia's request last week in Copenhagen.

Ustinov's deputy, Sergei Fridinskii, said the new evidence contains specific allegations, including charges that Zakaev led a group of 1,500 Chechen gunmen in the 1990s. He said the group committed "a series of terrorist acts in addition to general crimes."

Russian officials have also implicated Zakaev of involvement with Chechen rebels who held 800 people hostage in a Moscow theater last month.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said today that "terrorists must be put on trial" along with their "ideological and financial supporters."

Russian authorities today also arrested a man they say helped the Chechen gunmen in last month's hostage-taking crisis.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said the suspect had informed the gunmen by phone of police movements outside the Moscow theater during the stand-off.

The prosecutor's office also announced that two other suspects had been released from detention. The prosecutor's office also denied reports that some of the gunmen had been taken alive after the three-day siege.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office told Interfax that all 41 hostage takers -- including 19 women -- were shot dead when Russian commandos stormed the theater.

Meanwhile, the head of Russia's Security Council today demanded that Georgia extradite a Chechen separatist leader to Russia for trial.

Russian Security Council chief Vladimir Rushailo said Chechen separatist leader Ruslan Gelaev is in Georgia and asked Georgia to detain and extradite him.

Rushailo was speaking after his meeting today with his Georgian counterpart Tedo Japaridze.

Rushailo also brought up the subject of eight Chechens apprehended near the border with Chechnya in August. Russia has been seeking their extradition also.

Rushailo reportedly told Japaridze that Russia had given Georgia documents containing conclusive evidence of the eight's role in crimes on Russian territory and insisted the Chechens be sent to Russia.

Japaridze said his country supported the battle against terrorism but that the extradition requests were "quite a complicated matter."

*This picture was taken in 1996.