Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 5

On January 25, Akhmed Zakaev, a deputy prime minister in the Chechen separatist government and a special representative of Aslan Maskhadov, was received at both the French Foreign Ministry and the French National Education Ministry. Zakaev met with the deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s Continental Europe Department and as well as with other senior officials, and then with French Education Minister Jack Lang (Itar-Tass, January 27). On January 29, French ambassador Claude Blanchemaison was invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow and officially informed that Paris’ decision to receive Zakaev “contradicted the spirit of cooperation and partnership between our countries” (Reuters, January 29; La Liberation, January 30).

On January 27, Akhmed Zakaev held a press conference in Turin, Italy for local and foreign journalists concerning the situation in Chechnya. He had been invited to an event organized by the “Assemblies of Freedom Committees,” whose president is the well-known Russian human rights activist and former political prisoner Vladimir Bukovsky. Following the press conference, Zakaev met with Bukovsky, and the two proceeded to discuss questions of how to end the war and how to arrange for Russian war criminals to face judicial responsibility for “numerous crimes against humanity” (, January 27).