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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Moscow slams Chechen's US asylum
Ilyas Akhmadov
Mr Akhmadov fled to the US two years ago
Russian officials have condemned a decision by the US to grant asylum to a high-ranking Chechen separatist, who Moscow says is a terrorist.

Ilyas Akhmadov was foreign minister in the separatist Chechen government led by Aslan Maskhadov from 1997 to 1999.

The senior pro-Russian Chechen official in Moscow described the move as a "sign of US double standards".

Observers say Russia has repeatedly failed to convince foreign governments to extradite alleged extremists.

But BBC regional analyst Steven Eke says the US has been noticeably less critical of Russian conduct in Chechnya since President George W Bush launched his "war on terror".

However, our correspondent notes that Russia interprets foreign refusals to extradite alleged militants as tolerance of terrorism when it is aimed against Russian targets.

A senior adviser to President Vladimir Putin suggested the decision would cast a cloud over US-Russian relations.

Objections dropped

Mr Akhmadov is the latest representative of the separatist Chechen leadership to be granted asylum in a foreign country.

Former President Maskhadov's government dispersed and went into hiding following the Russian decision to send troops back into Chechnya in 1999.

Mr Akhmadov fled to the US two years ago and was granted asylum after security officials dropped objections.

Earlier this year, Mr Maskhadov's representative, Akhmed Zakayev, was granted asylum in the UK, which also angered Moscow.

For their part, foreign governments point to the unexplained deaths of Chechen rebels in custody, and the widespread use of torture in Russia.

Our analyst says foreign officials have also pointed out that Russian evidence, presented to extradition hearings, has been inconsistent and, at times, obviously fabricated.

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