Russia Urges Sweden to Extradite Chechens
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged Sweden on Tuesday to extradite two Chechen men and claimed that they have been involved in killings and kidnappings.
But the issue failed to overshadow the first visit to Russia by Swedish prime minister since 2000, in which warming business ties took centre stage. At a joint news conference with Fredrik Reinfeldt, Medvedev shifted the discussion to the Chechens when the issue of human rights in the Caucasus came up.
“If we talk about the Caucasus, apart from the human rights situation there is another problem … the bandits who found shelter in Sweden,” Medvedev said. “If we are talking about observing human rights, we also need to jointly fight crime.”
Reinfeldt told the news conference the decision not to extradite the Chechens was based on international conventions, and the sides had agreed to differ: “This is something we do not agree on, and we did not come to an agreement today.”
Sweden has been one of Russia’s harshest critics on human rights and foreign policy. After the 2008 invasion of Georgia, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt angered Moscow by drawing comparisons with the policies of Adolf Hitler. Its refusal to extradite of Chechen refugees: “Aslan Adayev and Magomed Uspayev” was denounced by Russia in 2008 as a “political offence”. But relations have warmed since Sweden agreed last year to allow Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipeline to cross its territorial waters. However, in an open letter published by the Swedish daily Sydsvenskan on Tuesday, Russian human rights campaigners Tatyana Lokshina and Oleg Orlov urged Reinfeldt and Bildt to criticise Russia openly for rights violations in the Caucasus, especially in Chechnya.
Aslan Adayev, a Chechen refugee living in Sweden, was appointed editor-in-chief for Kavkaz-Center website in autumn 2006. Subsequently, in July 2007, Russia put out an international warrant against him through Interpol; unfortunately Russia is still allowed to misuse Interpol in order to pursue political dissidents also abroad. An extradition of Adayev was requested by Sweden. However, the Swedish Supreme Court found the grounds for the request being political, and the Swedish government denied the Russian request in July 2008. This setback didn’t stop the Russian authorities – by threatening and detaining Adayev’s relatives living in Chechnya, he was forced to stop his journalistic activities in Sweden.
A footnote: Aslan Adayev has won a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights already in 2005 (Appl. no. 36378/02), but still he is harassed by Russia through Interpol.