#23 - JRL 7006
Sydney Morning Herald
January 7, 2003
We kill our rebels the Israeli way, says Russia
The Russian army has switched tactics in combating Chechen separatist rebels and is now using the "Israeli method" to eliminate them, the Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, said yesterday.
"The tactics of the federal forces have changed. It is now a precise operation during which we kill those who ought to be killed," Mr Ivanov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
"We use the wholly Israeli method when we know the exact composition of a cell, and we do not let go until the entire cell has been eliminated.
"If there is a cell of 10 people and we have eliminated nine out of the 10, we will pursue the 10th until his elimination."
Russian forces have been accused by human rights groups of carrying out arbitrary arrests and summary executions as troops try to stamp out separatist resistance in Chechnya.
"Obviously, it is we who control the situation but it cannot be said that there will be no further attacks in the future," Mr Ivanov said.
There would be no large withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway southern republic in 2003, he added.
Meanwhile in London, a Chechen rebel envoy, Akhmed Zakayev, said he feared for his life if Russian authorities win their bid on Thursday to extradite him from Britain to face charges of waging war and murder.
Zakayev told BBC television there was no chance of him getting a fair trial in Russia.
"There are several representatives of Chechnya who found themselves in the hands of the Russian authorities. Some of them disappeared without trace, without trial," he said.
"Those who were tried ... would be sent to prison or to a camp or disappear ... and I think the same fate would await me."
Russia charges the Chechen former actor and one-time fighter with waging war against it and involvement in a series of alleged murders and abductions - charges he denies.
Zakayev said Chechnya's rebel leadership was not involved in a bomb attack on the pro-Russian Chechen Government headquarters in Grozny last month or in a Moscow theatre hostage siege in October.
Zakayev expects Britain to reach the same conclusion on his extradition as Denmark, which freed him last month, saying Russia had presented insufficient evidence to extradite him.