Russia has decided to form anti-terror commissions in the volatile North Caucasus region after a series of attacks - and the foreign minister bluntly criticised countries that have given asylum to separatist figures from Chechnya. To push the point that Russia is a victim of international terrorism - and not just of violence spawned by the Chechen conflict, which critics say the Moscow government has only aggravated - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Rudolph Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City when al-Qa'ida struck the World Trade Centre in 2001. However, security officials have said 10 of the raiders who seized a school and took some 1,200 people hostage in North Ossetia last week have been identified and that six came from Chechnya, where insurgents have been fighting Russian forces for five years in the second of two wars in a decade. They said four others came from Ingushetia, where brazen co-ordinated attacks against police in June killed 90 people. Both Ingushetia and Chechnya border the southern Russian province of North Ossetia. The identities of the hostage-takers, reported yesterday by regional security officials on condition of anonymity, appeared to draw a strong connection between the Chechnya conflict and the hostage-taking in Beslan, which ended with at least 326 people dead, many of them children. High-level Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin had earlier claimed nine or 10 of the attackers were Arabs but authorities have provided no such evidence, and some appeared to backtrack this week. There was no new mention yesterday of Arabs being among the militants. The presence of Ingush raiders threatens to inflame long-standing tensions between Ingush and ethnic Ossetians, who are the majority in the republic, reports the NEWS. According to Daily Times, Russia’s foreign minister said on Thursday the United States and Britain were setting double standards on Russia by demanding negotiations with rebels from Chechnya while fighting their own war on terror. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Washington and London were still languishing in Cold War-era stereotypes while Moscow was trying to hard to establish a new spirit of partnership and cooperation with the West. His comments were published in the Vremya Novostei daily amid a rumbling war of words over US comments that Washington was still ready to receive certain elements from the Chechen resistance in a bid to help negotiate peace in the Caucasus. “Of course, there are double standards,” Lavrov told the daily. “I do not want to accuse the heads of states of the leading nations, of the G8, of adopting a system of double standards as part of their standard policy. But, as I have noted before, the inertia (for double standards) is there,” he said. He seemed to pick out Washington in particular by noting that the US administration was now staffed by the same people who worked there in the tensest days of the Cold War standoff in the 1970s and 1980s. “Today, policies are formed by the same people who took an active part in forming policies during the Cold War,” Lavrov said. Ten of the militants who seized a school in southern Russia have been identified and six were from Chechnya, security officials said Thursday, drawing a strong connection to the Chechen insurgents who have been fighting Russian forces for years. None were Arabs, despite the government's contention that Arabs were involved in the hostage-taking last week in the North Ossetian town of Beslan, which ended in gunfire and explosions that killed more than 350 people, many of them children. According to the officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, the other four militants came from Ingushetia, which is sandwiched between North Ossetia and Chechnya and was targeted in brazen coordinated attacks against police that killed 90 people in June. The presence of Ingush raiders threatens to inflame long-standing tensions between Ingush and ethnic Ossetians, who are the majority in the republic. President Vladimir Putin and Russian investigators have said about 10 of the roughly 30 attackers were Arabs, but authorities have not publicly provided evidence of the assertion. Officials who spoke Thursday made no mention of Arabs being among the militants. Russian officials repeatedly have cast the military campaign in Chechnya as part of a war against international terrorism a battle they say Western countries have hindered by granting asylum to Chechen figures and questioning Kremlin policy in Chechnya. To push the point that Russia is a victim of international terror and not just of violence spawned by the Chechen conflict, which critics say Kremlin policies have aggravated Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Rudolph Giuliani, mayor of New York City when al-Qaida suicide attackers struck the World Trade Center in 2001, publishes ABC NEWS.
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