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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechnya Says Performers Were Duped

GROZNY -- A folk ensemble of 18 Chechens who applied for asylum Sunday while on a tour of Finland were tricked into abandoning their homeland and want to return, Chechnya's culture minister said Thursday.

Two male and three female performers in the Zhowkhar folk ensemble -- which had semi-official status -- applied for asylum, along with the group's manager and 11 family members, citing a dangerous security situation at home.

Culture Minister Dikalu Muzakayev said the dancers seeking asylum had actually been sacked from the group a month ago, although a Finnish businessman who invited them to Finland disputes that.

"They enjoyed good working conditions here. They are crying and want to come back," said Muzakayev, without giving more details on whether the group would take them back.