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Chechen Broadcasts Could Aid Extremists, Russia Says

April 04, 2002|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — The Russian government warned that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's new Chechen-language news broadcasts could feed extremism in the troubled North Caucasus region.

Alexei K. Volin, deputy Cabinet chief of staff, said he would "not rule out the possibility that the broadcasts could be used by Chechen radical groups," because of what he called the U.S.-funded station's limited ability to control content, Echo of Moscow radio reported Wednesday.

He warned that the broadcasts beginning Wednesday could negatively affect security in Russia and the United States.

"The start of broadcasting in the Chechen language can be considered a step, but not in the direction of stabilizing the situation in the North Caucasus," Volin told the Izvestia newspaper Wednesday. "It is fraught with possibilities of encouraging extremism not only in Russia but in other friendly countries due to Chechen terrorists' contacts with international terrorist organizations."

Russia has been an enthusiastic partner in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism, and it views Moscow's war in Chechnya as part of the greater anti-terrorism effort. The government has gone to great lengths to control reporting on Chechnya.

Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's spokesman on Chechnya, warned Tuesday that Moscow might pull the radio station's broadcasting rights if its Chechen programming shows a pro-rebel bias.

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