Chechen leader to surrender to Polish prosecutors: report

17th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Chechen independence leader Akhmed Zakayev, wanted by Russia for alleged terrorism, will surrender Friday to Polish prosecutors who have said they must detain him, a supporter said.

"Mr Zakayev, who does not want to hide or cause problems for Poland, will present himself tomorrow morning at 8 am (0600 GMT) at the prosecutor's office on Chocimska street with friends and a lawyer to ask why he is being sought," Adam Borowski told the Polish news agency PAP.

Zakayev came to Poland on Thursday for a two-day congress of exiles from the conflict-torn region.

Polish authorities had warned that he could face arrest if he came to Poland under the international warrant issued by Russia, and that a Polish court would have to decide if he would be extradited.

Russian officials have said they would demand Zakayev's extradition should he attend the Chechen event, which they slammed as trying to stoke strife in the troubled Caucasus region.

Zakayev was the spokesman for Chechen separatist president Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed fighting Russian forces in 2005.

Britain granted Zakayev political asylum in 2003 and has refused Moscow's calls for him to be extradited for alleged terrorism by Chechen separatists. He is able to travel abroad thanks to an internationally-recognised refugee passport.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk warned Russia not to count on Polish courts reaching a decision they will be happy with.

"The extradition procedure isn't the same as extradition," he was quoted as saying by PAP at the EU summit in Brussels.

He also warned supporters of an independent Chechnya against staging any anti-Russian provocations.

Moscow has fought two full-blown wars with separatists in Muslim-majority Chechnya since 1994 which left the region devastated.

It is now battling a radical Islamist-fuelled insurgency there and in the neighbouring Caucasus regions of Dagestan and Ingushetia.

© 2010 AFP

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