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    RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DEMANDS THAT QATAR AUTHORITIES RELEASE THREE RUSSIAN CITIZENS

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 26 (RIA Novosti) - Acting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov demanded that Qatar authorities immediately release three Russian citizens, who are being illegally detained in Qatar, and to allow them to return home. These demands were voiced by Ivanov in his statement, which is carried by the Russian Foreign Ministry's official web site.

    The Ambassador of the State of Qatar was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry February 25, with acting Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov reading out the following statement to him:

    Qatar secret services arrested three Russian citizens, who were assigned to the Russian Embassy, in the early hours of February 19 in Doha, the capital of the State of Qatar. Weapons and brute force were used during their arrest.

    The aforesaid Russian citizens, including one diplomatic-passport holder, work for Russian secret services. They were legally assigned to the Russian Embassy in Qatar, conducting information-analytical work as regards anti-terrorist operations; they didn't violate local legislation in any way, while doing this. Such actions completely match the anti-terrorist coalition's efforts to expose funding sources and channels, organizational mechanisms and other means of supporting terrorist organizations, the statement reads in part.

    Not only did Qatar authorities seize Russian citizens by force, but they didn't promptly inform the Russian Embassy about their actions, thus violating elementary norms of inter-state relations, Ivanov stressed.

    Moreover, Russian citizens were not allowed to meet representatives of the Russian Embassy for seven consecutive days in violation of international law, the statement goes on to say.

    The Russian state is taking energetic action in order to protect its citizens. Among other things, the Russian Foreign Minister's special envoy was sent to Doha for negotiating with local authorities. One Russian citizen, who was released as a result of such talks, is now staying at the Russian Embassy. Persistent efforts are being made in order to secure the release of two other Russian citizens; meanwhile Qatar authorities are fully responsible for their life and health, the document notes.

    Contacts with representatives of the Qatar leadership show that they are trying to blame these Russian citizens for the recent assassination of the notorious Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, Ivanov's statement notes.

    Official Russian representatives have repeatedly noted that our country has nothing to do with the aforementioned incident. Consequently, attempts by Qatar authorities to blame Russian citizens, who were arrested by them for the attack on Yandarbiyev are absolutely groundless. These people were not involved in this incident. Meanwhile insinuations on the part of Qatar authorities can be perceived as nothing else but a provocation, the statement notes. As far as Yandarbiyev and his stay in Qatar are concerned, one should note the following. Yandarbiyev was included in the UN sanctions list together with other most dangerous international terrorists for his crimes on Russian territory. All countries are duty-bound to either put terrorists on trial or extradite them to those countries where they had committed their crimes in line with the UN's anti-terrorist resolutions.

    Russia had repeatedly voiced insistent demands to the effect that Qatar extradite Yandarbiyev, who is personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Russian citizens, including those, who died at the Moscow-based Dubrovka culture center in October 2002. That terrorist act was supervised by Yandarbiyev himself from Qatar.

    The leadership of Qatar, which didn't fulfill its international anti-terrorist commitments, virtually patronized Yandarbiyev, allowing him to move about freely, to contact representatives of various terrorist and extremist religious organizations; moreover, he was able to collect money for perpetrating new terrorist acts in different countries. Such connivance with regard to international terrorism is causing justified concern on the part of the UN. Arab countries, as well as all Moslem states, can't but feel concerned either because such behavior is willingly or unwillingly helping all those, who are trying to link terrorism with Islam. Russia has always advocated stable relations with Qatar, as this tallies with the interests of our countries and peoples. This objective can be accomplished by unfailingly observing the UN Charter and other norms of international law, the statement notes in conclusion.

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