Row over alleged Chechen nuclear weapons

MOSCOW, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A letter claiming that Chechen rebels possess nuclear weapons has been published in a Chechen newspaper.

The Chechenskoe Obshchestvo newspaper printed a letter from an individual named only as "Zakhar" claiming that disgraced oligarch Boris Berezovsky, now living in Britain after receiving asylum, was the source of the weaponry.


The letter is the lastest salvo in an ongoing debate between Berezovsky and the Chechen rebels over the ownership and sale of alleged nuclear weapons.

Last October Berezovsky claimed in an interview to have prevented a terrorist act, saying that he met "Zakhar" and offered to purchase a compact nuclear device for $3 million. Berezovsky taped the conversation and gave it to the CIA and the head of Russia's National Security Service, Nikolai Patrushev.

Berezovsky said, "They apparently came to me thinking that I was a staunch adversary of Putin's regime, so I would be interested in the offer."

Zakhar charges that it was in fact Berezovsky who attempted to sell the weapon and wrote his letter in an attempt to clear his name. Zakhar wrote, "The London-based billionaire Boris Berezovsky has launched a massive campaign in mass media to slander and discredit my name, trying to portray me as a dangerous terrorist who has access to nuclear weapons. Berezovsky told me at one of our meetings in 2000 in Paris that he would never agree to let Chechnya become an independent state."


On Sept. 8 Zakhar submitted documents to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights in an attempt to file a lawsuit against Berezovsky in a London court.

Zakhar wrote in his letter, "I am sure that Boris Berezovsky is capable of giving a command to use an A-bomb and then lay the blame for the attack on Chechens. He can do it when he or his Moscow companions need it."

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