JACK STRAW AGAINST LETTING TERRORISTS EXPLOIT RIGHT TO DEFENCE

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MOSCOW, September 24, (RIA Novosti's political affairs analyst Svyatoslav Voitelev) - Russia has insisted on Chechen terrorist Akhmad Zakaev's extradition from his London resort for several years already. On September 22, this issue topped the agenda of New York talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his British counterpart Jack Straw who, two days later, told the UN general assembly that the two countries contemplated a draft UN resolution on preventing terrorists from justice evasion.

The Foreign Office head said that this resolution was meant to stop those who committed, supported and financed acts of terrorism by masking themselves as refugees. He added that terrorists would not be allowed to exploit the right to the defence.

Does this mean that the Zakaev litigation is coming to an end? Russia does not look at the Zakaev case as an individual manifestation of international law's setback. For this country, it is a symbol of the world community's progress or sluggishness in the battle against terrorism, an indication of the world's cohesion in resistance to international outrages Moscow claims that Zakaev's stay in London today is a sign of dissent in this cohesion.

Russian diplomats have spent recent years in calling the world for giving up dual standards, which are an indisputable hindrance to the effective anti-terrorism drive.

These appeals have not always hit the aim.

Five years ago when several Russian towns became targets of terrorist attacks with hundreds of casualties, Russia found itself at the forefront of anti-terrorism struggles without any support. International terrorism came to enjoy fertile breeding grounds in Chechen separatism, the armed movement for the withdrawal of North Caucasian Chechnya from Russia. The world community led by the governments of West Europe and North America obstinately turned their backs on the fact that Chechen "fighters for independence" got under the sway of international terrorist organisations headed by the notorious Al-Qaeda.

Only the terrible shock suffered by the United States on September 11, 2001, forced the political leadership of the country to revise their attitude toward what was happening in Russia. This revision however was not consistent. Washington left for itself loopholes through which it, though perhaps not on the highest level, could continue contacts with people whom Moscow knew as those involved in terrorist organisations. For instance, Ilyas Akhmadov represents now Chechnya in the United States and all Moscow efforts to ban his activities are futile.

Things have been until recently still worse in Europe. In 2003, Denmark refused to extradite Akhmed Zakaev though Russia had submitted evidence of Zakaev's complicity in organisations harassing the peaceful population of Russia. Living in London, Zakaev is active in his anti-Russian campaign.

Judging by Jack Straw's statements, Russia's voice has been finally heeded. The world community seems to start giving up dual standards as regards terrorists.

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