Russian ministries advise Putin to remove Taliban from list of terrorist organisations — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Russian ministries advise Putin to remove Taliban from list of terrorist organisations

Taliban official Abdul Salam Hanafi speaks to media during talks involving Afghan representatives in Moscow, Russia, 20 October 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO / POOL

Taliban official Abdul Salam Hanafi speaks to media during talks involving Afghan representatives in Moscow, Russia, 20 October 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO / POOL

Both Russia’s Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry have submitted a recommendation to Vladimir Putin that he remove the militant Islamist Taliban from Russia’s official list of terrorist and extremist organisations, state-owned news agency TASS reported on Monday.

Russia declared the Taliban a terrorist organisation in March 2003, two years after the group lost power in Afghanistan following the country’s invasion by a US-led military coalition as part of the Global War on Terror.

In 2021, the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan following a heavily criticised US withdrawal from the country. Since then, much of the international community has refused to recognise the organisation as the legitimate Afghan government. However, in recent years Russia and the Taliban have begun to forge closer ties, despite Moscow’s formal designation of the group as a terrorist organisation.

“There is no way around this if we want to recognise them. We are continuing to work on the issue and have passed all our thoughts on to the Russian leadership,” said Zamir Kabulov, an Afghanistan expert at the Foreign Ministry.

Despite the Taliban’s designation in Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in particular, has remained in contact with the militant Islamist group’s representatives, and this month even saw a Taliban delegation attend the 15th Russia-Islamic World: Kazan Forum. The group has also been invited to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum from 5-8 June.

Despite the proposed change of tack, Russian journalist and specialist in Russia’s North Caucasus Nadezhda Kevorkova is still being held in police custody for publishing posts on her Telegram channel that prosecutors say “justified” the activities of the Taliban.

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