Russia issues new arrest warrant for Chechen separatist

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Russia has issued a new international arrest warrant for exiled Chechen independence leader Akhmed Zakayev, who is based in London, the prosecutor general's office said Tuesday.

The statement followed a deadly attack in Grozny on Tuesday, during which up to four rebels broke into the Chechen parliament and gunned down four people before being killed in a standoff.

"An international arrest warrant has been issued for Zakayev because he is hiding from investigators outside Russia," the prosecutor's office said in a statement, adding that the court decision dated back to October 7.

The repeated arrest procedures were due to evidence of new crimes and changes in legislation, the statement said.

"In 2001, Russia already issued an international arrest warrant for Zakayev, but since then the number of crimes that the investigation suspects him of committing has significantly changed," it said.

Zakayev, who received political asylum in Britain in 2003, was briefly detained in Warsaw last month but later released.

He is the former European spokesman of Chechen separatist president Aslan Maskhadov, who established a self-proclaimed Chechen republic and was killed in 2005 while fighting Russian forces.

Zakayev has refused Moscow's calls for him to be extradited for alleged "terrorist" acts.

Prosecutors said that Zakayev helped organise "long-lasting armed groups" between 1995 and 2000, and committed crimes "against persons, state power, public safety and the government system."

Zakayev "personally led" a group of up to 1,500 people, prosecutors said.

© 2010 AFP

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