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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Will Not Allow Ocalan Back

Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan is not in Russia and is not expected in the country any time soon, Russian officials and sources close to Ocalan said Thursday.

"Abdullah Ocalan is not and will not be on the territory of the Russian Federation,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass.

Rakhmanin was responding to Russian television reports that said Ocalan, who left Moscow for Rome on Nov. 12, had returned to seek asylum again.

His November plea for asylum was backed by the Communist-led Russian parliament, but Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov rejected the bid.

Ocalan has been looking for a place to live since he was expelled from Syria in response to pressure from Turkey. Turkey wants to try him as a terrorist.

Italy has refused extradition because Ocalan would face the death penalty in Turkey. But Italy also has been reluctant to grant him asylum.

Merabi Shamoyev, head of Russia's Kurdish Union, said Kurds would not try again in the near future to arrange for Ocalan to come to Russia after the Russian government refused to grant him political asylum.

And officials at the Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB, bristled at suggestions that they were working with Italian secret services to smuggle Ocalan to Russia, news reports said.

"We categorically refuse to comment on such assertions,'' FSB spokesman Alexander Zdanovich was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Ocalan's Kurdish Workers' Party has been waging a 14-year war for autonomy in southeast Turkey. Nearly 37,000 people have been killed in the fighting.