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The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"At the moment the military has little to be proud of"
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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 10:37 GMT
Russia targets UK Chechens
Chechen rebels in Grozny
Russia is failing to subdue the rebels in Chechnya
The Russian Government is asking the UK to use new anti-terrorist laws to crack down on London-based groups suspected of aiding Chechen rebels.

Officials at the Kremlin are compiling a list of groups supposedly operating in London that support the Chechens' fight for independence.

We have often drawn London's attention to various groups which fund Chechen terrorists

Kremlin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky
The Terrorism Act, which came into effect on Monday, makes it illegal for anyone in Britain to incite terrorism abroad.

Russia says the groups are raising money and recruiting mercenaries from Asian and African students at the prestigious London School of Economics.

Money or PR

The request comes amid fresh signs that Russia's 17-month operation in Chechnya is failing to subdue the rebels.

Sergei Yastrszhembsky
Yastrzhembsky named three organisations
The rebels have warned that they will mark Friday's anniversary of Stalin's wartime deportation of the Chechen people to Central Asia with a series of attacks.

The Kremlin's spokesman on Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said: "We have often drawn London's attention to various groups which fund Chechen terrorists and show open support for them."

Mr Yastrzhembsky said support could be provided in the form of money or public relations, and specificially named three organisations including a magazine and an information centre

He added: "We know that rebels recruit mercenaries in London School of Economics, among its many Asian and African students."

Seize assets

The Terrorism Act gives police increased powers to seize assets and arrest those they believe may be promoting terrorism outside Britain.

It replaces the 1973 Prevention of Terrorism Act, which gave the police special powers to stop, search, arrest and detain terrorist suspects, and had to be renewed each year.

The Act has been introduced partly in response to complaints from foreign governments that Britain is harbouring groups that are carrying out violent campaigns in their countries.

Under the new laws, fundraising and openly supporting groups involved in terrorism will lead to arrest.

Violent campaign

The Act makes it illegal to plan a violent campaign, even if it is carried out abroad.

Previously, foreigners in Britain who may have been planning attacks abroad had the right to stay, provided they could convince the courts they would be persecuted if they were sent home.

It is thought that representatives of several international groups could fall foul of the new rules.

The UK Government is drawing up a list of groups which it considers to be terrorist under the new legislation.

Once an organisation is on the list, it is illegal to be a member of the group, support it financially, display its emblems or share a platform with a member at a meeting of three or more people.

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