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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rebels Ridicule U.S. Move

A Chechen separatist news agency said Saturday that Washington's designation of warlord Shamil Basayev as a terrorist amounted to its acceptance of part of the responsibility for atrocities in Chechnya.

In a terse, irate statement published on the web site, Agency Caucasus also ridiculed Washington's move to freeze any assets Basayev may have in the United States, saying the rebel fighter had no holdings in the country to begin with.

Russia's enthusiastic praise of the U.S. action indicated its "happiness" that the United States was willing "to share the same responsibility for the Russian bloodshed and genocide in Chechnya," wrote the agency, part of the Caucasus Foundation, a nongovernmental organization based in Turkey.

Russia has long sought international recognition of its military campaign in Chechnya as an anti-terrorist operation.

Akhmad Zakayev, the right-hand man of separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, criticized the U.S. decision as serving nothing but propaganda purposes, Agency Caucasus said. "The United States administration is using the current political situation to manipulate President [Vladimir] Putin and Russia in the direction of U.S. interests," Zakayev, who is in London fighting extradition to Russia, was quoted as saying.

Washington's decision comes ahead of Putin's planned visit to the United States in late September. Kommersant suggested it was an attempt by the U.S. administration to ensure Moscow's favorable attitude during the talks. "The freezing of Basayev's accounts can be considered a gift by George Bush to Vladimir Putin ahead of important talks," the newspaper said Saturday.

Russian newspapers gave front-page coverage to Washington's decision, but some reproached the United States for taking too long to make the move.

The United States had designated three Chechen groups as terrorist organizations in February.