Chechen group urges Russian arrest

A Chechen advocacy group has called on Denmark's special prosecutor for international crimes to arrest visiting Russian general Anatoly Kulikov for alleged war crimes in Chechnya.

    A Russian military helicopter crashed in Chechnya, killing six

    "There are concrete suspicions (that Russian troops serving under Kulikov) have perpetrated war crimes and torture against the (Chechen) population," the head of the Danish Chechnya Support Committee, Thomas Bindesboell Larsen, said in a letter to the prosecutor released in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

    The group called for the arrest of Kulikov, 58, now a member of the Russian Duma, or parliament, for his role in a massacre in the Chechen town of Samashki in April 1995, as well as for his decision to block international aid organisations from entering the battle zone throughout the first Chechen war of independence in 1994-96.

    Explanation sought

    Kulikov was invited to Denmark by the state-financed Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) to participate in a conference on international terrorism seen from a Russian perspective.

    Two left-leaning opposition Danish parties, the Socialist People's Party and the formerly communist Unity List, called on Justice Minister Lene Espersen to explain why Kulikov was invited.

    "We want to know why Kulikov has not been arrested like (Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed) Zakayev was in Denmark in the summer of 2002, following a request from Moscow calling him a terrorist"

    Frank Aaen,
    spokesman for Denmark's leftist Unity List party

    "We want to know why Kulikov has not been arrested like (Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed) Zakayev was in Denmark in the summer of 2002, following a request from Moscow calling him a terrorist," Unity List spokesman Frank Aaen told AFP.

    "You cannot have two different scales. The minister must explain herself," he added, insisting that strong evidence links Kulikov to war crimes in Chechnya, where a second guerrilla war has raged since 1999.

    Helicopter crash

    In a separate development, at least six people aboard a Russian military helicopter have died after it crashed in war-torn Chechnya, Russian news agencies reported quoting military officials.

    Six others were reported injured after the crash on Tuesday, which occurred near Russia's main military base in the Caucasian republic.

    One report quoted an unnamed official from Chechnya's Interior Ministry as saying that the crash did not result in deaths.

    The MI-8 helicopter crashed near Moscow's main military base in the republic near the capital Grozny, news reports said.

    The crash occurred two weeks after Russian forces reported that they killed Chechnya's moderate rebel chief Aslan Maskhadov.

    An unnamed official with Russia's unified command in the North Caucasus told the RIA Novosti news agency that according to preliminary information, the helicopter crashed after engine failure.

    Another unnamed official said that the helicopter could have crashed after coming under fire from the ground.

    "Currently we are looking at two main versions - fire from the ground and engine failure," RIA quoted an unnamed official as saying.



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