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3 Oct 2014
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Akhmed Zakayev. Who is Akhmed Zakayev?
A senior Chechen envoy was arrested in Britain earlier this month on a Russian extradition warrant accusing him of armed rebellion, murder and kidnapping.

He was freed after the actress Vanessa Redgrave put up £50,000 bail for him. Bow Street magistrates court in Central London agreed to an extension of his release, resisting the Russian pressure to imprison the Chechen rebel government`s top negotiator. The extradition hearing is now scheduled to begin in London in January.

Mr Zakayev, a former actor, was educated in Moscow and was also the Minister of Culture and chaired the Federation of Theatres in Chechnya in the former Soviet Union.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union he took part in the first Chechen war of independence.

When the peace agreement with Russia was signed, he started to promote peace dialogue and in November 2001 held talks in Moscow with President Putin`s representative General Victor Kazantsev. During this time moderate Chechens and Zakayev himself were resisting pressure from extremists.

The Russian authorities of the time were very willing to negotiate with Mr Zakayev. They saw him as a powerful negotiator during the war, who did not share the more radical views of the extremist warlords Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev.

As President Maskhadov`s representative, Mr Zakayev made an offer to Moscow: he agreed to the status of wide autonomy for Chechnya and suggested the introduction of direct Moscow rule for the interim period.

But the Russians insisted on unconditional capitulation of the rebels. Some Russian experts believe that those who made this decision bear heavy responsibility for the hostage tragedy in Moscow in October.


In the wake of Moscow theatre crisis in October when more than 120 hostages died from the effects of the narcotic gas, Mr Zakayev was arrested in Copenhagen where he was attending a Chechen congress.

Moscow accused him of involvement with Chechen rebels who took more than 800 people hostage in Moscow, an allegation Mr Zakayev vehemently denied.

He was released following 34 days in custody after the authorities found no evidence to back Russian accusations against him. He chose London as his next stop as his family, and good friend Vanessa Redgrave all live.

The extradition proceedings in British courts could take months.

In Moscow the general public believe that Mr Zakayev won't be extradited. If the courts decide to return him to Moscow he is convinced he will be tortured or killed. He is anxiously waiting for the decision of the court.

After the decision, he will consider applying for policial asylum in Britain.

Chechnya - country profile BBC News Online
War in Chechnya - Special report from BBC News Online
Chechen Republic Online
Russian Government
Russian Information centre - Official Russian Government source
Memorial Human Rights Centre
Human Rights Watch

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Akhmed Zakayev with supporter Vanessa Redgrave, outside Bow Street Magistrates Court.
Akhmed Zakayev with Vanessa Redgrave.
Listen - Hear from Akhmed Zakaev the Chechen envoy facing extradition to Russia
Chechen War Facts


1st war 1994 - 1996

2nd war - 1999 - present


Civilian dead - over 70,000 (1st and 2nd war)

Missing (taken away by Russian soldiers) - over 2000 confirmed cases (2nd war only)

Refugees outside Chechnya 150,000 (Dec 2002)

Homeless of displaced within Chechnya - 200,000


1999 - 750,000 to 800,000

2002 - 600,000 (estimate, official number is 1,080,000)

Federal Forces Casualties (1st and 2nd war)

Dead - over 10,000

Wounded - approximately 50,000

Flag of Autonomous Chechen Republic (not recognised).
Flag of Autonomous Chechen Republic (not recognised).
Map of the Chechen conflict.
Map of the Chechen conflict.
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