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Chechnya's head says wants to top EU black list

The head of the Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, said he would be offended if he did not top the European Union's black list compiled in connection with Russia's position on the situation in Ukraine.

Kadyrov told an Itar-Tass correspondent that he would be glad to be on the sanctions list together with people he respected "who protect the interests of their country."

"I am even glad to be on that list as I speak against those who violate the rights of millions of people, including Muslims," he said.

"Banderovites [negative term for followers of Stepan Bandera - a nationalist leader in Western Ukraine in the 20th century who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II] kill innocent people, while Europe and the United States receive the key terrorists at their places. It is utter lawlessness," Kadyrov said.

"We have a strong state. They will not achieve what they did in other countries by any sanctions or threats. We are guarding our homeland," he said.

Earlier, Western media carried reports saying that EU experts and diplomats had drafted a preliminary list of 120-130 high-ranking Russian officials and state corporation heads subject to possible sanctions over the situation in Ukraine.

Mass anti-government protests, often turning violent, started in Ukraine in November 2013 when the country's authorities refused to sign an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

The Ukrainian protests resulted in a coup in the country in February 2014. President Viktor Yanukovich had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns. Yanukovich told reporters in south Russia on Tuesday that he remained the legitimate Ukrainian president despite "an anti-constitutional seizure of power by armed radicals."

Russia does not recognize the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities who seized power during the coup. Moscow considers Yanukovich to be the legitimate Ukrainian president.

[Source: Itar Tass, Grozny, 15Mar14]

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