The press service of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) government posted a statement on the Chechenpress news agency’s website (Chechenpress.info) on March 18 denying European and Russian media reports that Akhmed Zakaev, the London-based ChRI prime minister, refused to participate in a session of the European Parliament in Brussels over fears the Belgian authorities could extradite him to Russia. The ChRI government’s press service said that the question of creating a European Parliament initiative group for “the right of the Chechen people to self-determination” was discussed in the European Parliament with Zakaev’s participation last year and that Zakaev and members of the proposed initiative group met in February and decided to reschedule its founding conference until this autumn because of elections in the European Parliament this summer. ChRI Interior Minister Usman Ferzauli attended a European Parliament meeting on Chechnya on March 18, Chechenpress reported. Gazeta.ru on March 17 quoted Russia’s ambassador in Brussels, Vadim Lukov, as saying Moscow expected Belgian authorities not to let Zakaev into their country. Meanwhile, Chechen Parliamentary Speaker Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov on March 19 strongly condemned the European Parliament members’s plan to create an initiative group on Chechen self-determination, telling RIA Novosti that the Chechen people “have not asked anyone to solve non-existent problems on its behalf.”The official statement in Russian.
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