Polish prosecutors are deciding whether to release or extradite an exiled Chechen rebel leader wanted by Russia on terrorism charges.
Akhmed Zakayev travelled to Warsaw despite a warning from authorities there that they would have no choice but to arrest him. Moscow has issued an international warrant against the former actor through Interpol.
Living in Britain where he has been granted political asylum, Zakayev came to Poland to attend a congress. It has brought together fellow Chechens supporting independence for their trouble-torn region in the North Caucasus.
But in Chechnya’s capital Grozny, news of Zakayev’s detention was greeted with satisfaction by the pro-Kremlin administration.
“If there is lawfulness and righteousness in the world, Zakayev needs to be extradited to the Russian Federation, to us. He needs to be punished in accordance with the law,” said Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.
Zakayev fought Russia as a senior rebel commander in two wars in the 1990s. Today, he represents the moderate wing of the Chechen separatist movement.