Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 13

On March 26, the separatist foreign minister of Chechnya, Il’yas Akhmadov, was scheduled to have a meeting with John Beryle, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Newly Independent States. The announcement last week by Marc Grossman, President Bush’s nominee for undersecretary of state for political affairs, that such a meeting was to be held shortly, had generated a torrent of invective from high-ranking Russian officials. The speaker of the State Duma, Gennady Seleznev, noted that Akhmadov was wanted by the office of the General Procuracy of Russia for having participated in the “illegal armed formations” during the 1994-1996 war. He suggested that the United States extradite Akhmadov to Russia, where he could be put on trial (Gazeta.ru, RIA Novosti, March 21). The chairman of the Duma’s international affairs committee, Dmitry Rogozin, speculated that the United States might have to be placed “on the list of countries which officially back terrorism” (Strana.ru, March 21). And the just-promoted presidential assistant Sergei Yastrzhembsky warned: “Such contacts are unacceptable inasmuch as the Chechen terrorists can perceive them as a signal approving their separatist activities…. If a meeting of Akhmadov with the representatives of the State Department takes place,” he vowed,” then from the side of Moscow there will follow an adequate reaction” (Izvestia, March 22).