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August 8, 2022

Chechen separatist leader freed in Poland

A Chechen separatist leader was released from custody Friday evening, several hours after he was detained, state media reported, quoted by CNN.

A judge in Warsaw, Poland, denied a prosecutor’s request to arrest separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, who is in Poland for the World Chechen Congress, according to Russian state media agency Itar-Tass.

Akhmed Zakayev “is at large and may leave the country,” court press secretary Wojciech Malek said, according to Itar-Tass. A prosecutor could appeal the Polish court’s decision to free Zakayev, Malek said.

After the ruling, Zakayev told reporters that he would travel to address the World Chechen Congress in Pultusk, about 60 km (40 miles) north of Warsaw, Russia’s state-run RIA-Novosti reported. “I do not intend to conduct an anti-Russian campaign. Poland has chosen to re-establish normal relations with Russia, its great neighbor, but we must also make sure that Russia also becomes a normal state,” he said, according to RIA-Novosti. Zakayev was a brigade general of the Chechen rebel forces during the 1995-1996 war and later served as culture minister, foreign minister and deputy prime minister in Chechnya’s separatist government from 1996 to 1999. After Russia crushed rebel rule during a second war with Chechnya that started in 1999, Zakayev emigrated to Europe, where he has been the head of the Chechen rebel government in exile. Russia issued an international warrant for Zakayev’s arrest in October 2001.

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