Ex-members of famous Chechen women's vocal group seek asylum in Finland
By Tomas Vrsovsky
HELSINKI, PRAGUE – Six recent members of the renowned Chechen women's vocal group „Zhovkhar“ have recently applied for refugee status in Finland, their representative Beslan Saraliyev told Prague Watchdog in a telephone interview from Helsinki today.
„When we were leaving [Chechnya], we gave notice because we wished to arrive here and stay here,“ Saraliyev said. He refused to elaborate on the reasons for their decision to seek asylum in Finland.
„Those people who came with me include six [recent] members of the ensemble. Their families, children and husbands, also came with them,“ he said, adding that there are a total of 17 people in Finland now.
Referring to the false information that appeared yesterday on one of the pro-guerrilla websites, Saraliyev stressed that the other part of „Zhovkhar“ remained in Chechnya and that the refugee seekers in Finland are officially not the state ensemble „Zhovkhar“. Today Chechen authorities also claimed that the „Zhovkhar“ ensemble did not leave Chechnya.
The women's vocal ensemble „Zhovkhar“ („Pearl“) often performs at events organized by the Moscow-backed Chechen authorities, therefore the fact that some of their members have sought refugee status abroad resulted in today's scandal. „I didn't expect such powerful response at all,“ said Saraliyev, appealing to media to provide true, and not distorted information.
Saraliyev confirmed that the ex-members of „Zhovkhar“ who are in Finland intend to continue their artistic work abroad. They have not yet discussed the name under which they will perform.
According to Finnish activist Mikael Storsjo, the Chechen group arrived in Finland on August 5 and immediately applied for asylum. They applications will be reviewed by Finnish migration authorities. Storsjo expects that refugee status will be granted.
(T/E) RELATED ARTICLES:
· Music performed by Zhovkhar (Chechnyafree.ru)