Russia Requests Berevsky Extradition from Denmark and Qatar

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Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Bruce Zagaris
On October 30, 2002, the Danish Government arrested a senior Chechen leader, Akhmed Zakayev, the 43 year-old deputy prime minister of the Chechen Separatist government in exile, on charges that he was involved in the Moscow theater siege. On October 31, 2002, Russia demanded that Qatar arrest and extradite Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, an alleged Islamic extremist connected to the Chechen separatist movement. These case are testing the obligation to extradite persons to a country whose treatment of Chechen fighters or rebels is subject to allegations of abuse. Mr. Zakayev was arrested after the end of the World Chechen conference, which Russia had urged Denmark to block. The conference prepared statements calling for negotiations to end the war in Chechnya. A Danish judge ordered Mr. Zakayev detained until November 12, while his case is under investigation. Russian officials immediately requested the extradition of Mr. Zakayev. According to Aleksandr V. Machecsky, a Russian spokesman, Russia had requested Mr. Zakayev?s arrest since September 2001 on three charges arising from the Chechen war. Mr. Machevsky claimed that Mr. Zakayev was involved in the hostage siege. On October 31, 2002, the Russian Government requested Yandarbiyev, charging that a taped telephone conversation was sufficient evidence of his involvement in the seizure of some 800 hostages by Chechen guerillas. Yandarbiyev is a Chechen exile and financier of separatists in Qatar. According to published reports, Mr. Yandarbiyev played an important role in organizing a guerrilla gang operated by Arbi Barayev, a Chechen warlord. The arrests and extradition requests show strengthened international cooperation against terrorism especially in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.