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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zakayev Dossier Handed to Danes

APEspersen leaving the meeting at the Justice Ministry in Moscow on Tuesday.
Russia handed Denmark new evidence on Tuesday against Akhmed Zakayev, a prominent Chechen separatist detained days after the Moscow theater siege, and pressed its demand for his extradition, Danish Justice Minister Lene Espersen said.

Denmark, at Russia's request, detained Zakayev, a spokesman for fugitive rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, only days after the end of the 58-hour siege, while he was attending a Chechen conference in Copenhagen.

"I had a meeting with the general prosecutor ... and we got a very fat piece of paper," Espersen said in English, holding her thumb and forefinger apart to indicate a thick dossier.

Russia was elated by the detention of Zakayev. But Denmark has said it needs more evidence before it could extradite him, and Espersen said Denmark had set a deadline of Nov. 30 for Russia to provide it. She could not say whether the new dossier was enough.

"I haven't had time to study this yet, but it will be handed over to the relevant authorities and they will look through it first thing when I get back," she said in Moscow outside a meeting of Russian and European Union justice ministers.

Separately, Espersen said by telephone that Russia had promised to present further evidence if Denmark sought it. "They're very keen to get Zakayev extradited and told us they will do their utmost to send any material regarding the case," she said.

Zakayev condemned the theater siege, in which 120 hostages died, and said the Chechen guerrillas who seized the building belonged to a splinter group outside Maskhadov's control.

Moscow dismissed his comments and accused him of armed rebellion, organization of illegal groups and attempts to kill law-and-order officials.

In Ingushetia, to the west of Chechnya, Chechen refugees, crowded into tent camps, said on Tuesday that Zakayev should not be judged as a criminal.

"He is not a terrorist, he is simply a guerrilla who fought with the enemy when they came to his homeland," refugee Umar Bukhigov said at a protest demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops circling four of the tent camps where tens of thousands of refugees live.

Hundreds of protesters held photographs of relatives who have disappeared in house-to-house searches in Chechnya.