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May 14, 2018

Chechen leader blames Paris stabbing on France


May 14, 2018

MOSCOW: France bears "full responsibility" for the knife attack blamed on a Chechen-born Frenchman that left one dead and four wounded in Paris, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Sunday.

The assailant, identified by French police as Chechnya-born French national Khamzat A., went on a stabbing spree in a busy district of central Paris on Saturday evening before police shot him dead.

Kadyrov identified the 20-year-old assailant as Hassan Azimov. Kadyrov said he obtained a Russian passport when he was 14, before obtaining French nationality. "Knowing that, I think it important to note that the entire responsibility for the fact that Hassan Azimov chose the path of crime lies with the French authorities," Kadyrov said on the Telegram messaging app.

"He may have been born in Chechnya, but he grew up and formed his personality, his opinions and convictions within French society," Kadyrov said. "I’m sure that if he had spent his childhood and adolescence in Chechnya, Hassan’s fate would have been different."

The assailant was known to French intelligence services, and his parents were taken into custody on Sunday. After the first Chechen war of 1994-96, the separatist rebellion in the small Russian republic turned into a radical Islamist movement that reached beyond the borders into the whole of the troubled northern Caucasus region.

In June 2015, it swore allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS), which claimed responsibility for the Paris stabbing attack. Today the group remains a major source of fighters for IS in Syria and Iraq.

Chechen information minister Dzhambulat Umarov earlier on Sunday was also eager to play down the link between the northern Caucasus region and the Paris attack.

Such crimes know "no nationality, no faith, no motherland and no flag," he said in comments to Russian radio. Kadyrov, who is loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has run Chechnya with an iron fist since 2007. Human rights activists have accused him of running a "totalitarian" regime that practises torture and abductions, as well as forcibly turning Chechnya into an Islamic state.

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