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Russia bans • Saturday February 15, 2003

AFP, Feb. 14, 2003

MOSCOW, Feb 14: Russia on Friday placed 15 Muslim groups on a terror blacklist, including the Al Qaeda network and two radical Chechen organizations.

The Russian supreme court upheld a request by Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov to blacklist the groups, ordering that their assets be confiscated and activities halted in Russia.

The banned groups include the Congress of Peoples of Ichkeria and Dagestan and the United Force of Caucasian Mujahideen, led by radical Chechen Shamil Basayev and Movladi Udugov.

Apart from Al Qaeda, the list also figures radical organizations outside Russia, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s Lashkar-i-Taiba.

Russia has been demanding that Washington place Chechen groups on its terror blacklist, a move that would enable Moscow to present its campaign against the guerillas as part of the fight against global terrorism.

The insurgency in Chechnya is led by elected president, Aslan Maskhadov, who says he opposes terrorism, but is supported by a number of radical groups, one of which staged a dramatic hostage-taking operation at a Moscow theatre last year in which 129 people died.

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