Chechen leader calls on Poland to extradite Kremlin fugitive
Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov Friday called for Poland to extradite Chechen independence leader Akhmed Zakayev, wanted for alleged terrorism, saying he should be tried in Russia.
"If law and justice exist, then Zakayev should definitely be handed over to Russia, that is to us," Kadyrov said in televised remarks.
"He should be punished in accordance with law," he said, adding that Zakayev was "wanted for kidnappings and murder of people, policemen."
Polish police said earlier in the day they had arrested exiled Chechen independence leader Zakayev, who had arrived in Poland to attend a two-day congress of exiles from conflict-torn Chechnya.
Zakayev was the European representative of Chechen separatist president Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed fighting Russian forces in 2005.
A former actor specialising in Shakespearean roles, Zakayev now lives in Britain, where he has political asylum. He fought for Chechen independence in the 1990s but condemned current rebel leader Doku Umarov for proclaiming an Islamic state called the Caucasus Emirate.
Kadyrov, who enjoys Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's support, has repeatedly invited Zakayev to return home, offering him a job if he came back as a theatre actor or director of a concert hall.
On Friday, Kadyrov expressed hope that Poland would move to extradite Zakayev following a recent thaw in relations after years of bad blood.
"I am sure that the Polish leadership will make the right decision, considering relations between Russia and Poland, and Zakayev will finally get his just desserts," Kadyrov said.
Relations between Moscow and Warsaw have been stormy for years but the countries grew closer to reconciliation after the plane of Polish president Lech Kaczynski crashed in Russia in April, killing all 96 passengers on board.
Russian leaders have offered unprecedented displays of mourning since the accident.
© 2010 AFP