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Russia to Allow Resettlement of 1K Afghans, Diaspora Leader Says

Huge crowds remain outside Kabul airport hoping to flee the threat of reprisals and repression in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Joshua Roberts / Getty Images via AFP

Russia will allow the resettlement of around 1,000 Afghan nationals following the Taliban militant group’s sudden takeover of Afghanistan, an Afghan diaspora leader told Russian state media Wednesday.

Chairman of the Afghan Diaspora in Russia Ghulam Mohammad Jalal made the remarks as huge crowds remained outside Kabul airport, with thousands of Afghans hoping to flee the threat of reprisals and repression and Western forces rushing to meet an Aug. 31 evacuation deadline.

Russia has cleared entry for Afghans with Russian passports and work and residence permits as well as students at Russian universities, Jalal told the RIA Novosti news agency.

“They have received approval, now they’re waiting in line to fly to Russia at the first technical opportunity when the airport is opened,” he was quoted as saying.

Jalal added that discussions are ongoing regarding Afghan graduates of Russian universities and relatives of those who have received clearance to ensure that militants disguised as refugees do not infiltrate their ranks. President Vladimir Putin warned of an influx of terrorists posing as asylum seekers from Afghanistan earlier this week.

“We’re also afraid of that,” the diaspora leader told RIA Novosti. “Who knows who’ll be among these refugees, the main thing is that there are no undesirable persons among them.”

The Taliban has been accused of blocking or slowing access for many trying to reach Kabul's airport, a charge it denied late Tuesday, AFP reported.

Russia has said it would provide civil aircraft to evacuate anyone who wishes to leave “to any foreign countries that show interest in receiving and accommodating them.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Russian military announced the evacuations of 500 Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Central Asian nationals from Afghanistan via four military aircraft.

The Kremlin has been cautiously optimistic about the Islamic fundamentalist group since its Aug. 15 seizure of power in Kabul despite it being officially banned within Russia itself.

The Taliban’s political office in Qatar told Arab media Tuesday that it maintains “good relations” with Russia and China.

The Taliban is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.

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