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Russia: Moscow Welcomes U.S. Blacklisting Of Chechen Groups

Moscow, 21 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Moscow today welcomed a U.S. decision to place three Chechen rebel groups on a blacklist of terrorist organizations. The Interfax news agency quoted Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the Kremlin's chief spokesman on Chechnya, as saying the move is "good and long-awaited news." He said the decision will benefit Russia, the United States, and the international antiterrorist coalition.

Yesterday, U.S. State Department officials said the United States will soon impose financial sanctions on three Chechen rebel groups. Under the sanctions, any assets that the groups have in the United States would be frozen. It would also become illegal for U.S. citizens to make financial contributions to the groups.

U.S. officials declined to name the three groups, saying their names must first be published in the official U.S. Federal Register.

Russia has long been pushing the United States to place the Chechen rebels on the blacklist, a move that enables Moscow to present its anti-insurgency campaign against Chechen separatists as part of the war on terrorism.