MOSCOW, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Russia's Foreign Ministry on Thursday condemnedthe appointment of Saudi terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime, the official RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Bin Laden's appointment confirmed that a center of international terrorism is being set up in Taliban-controlled territory, the ministry said in a statement.
"Pseudo-religious values are being used as a cover to prepare a bridgehead for expansion of militant extremism and separatism far beyond the region's borders," added the statement.
This month, Russian media quoted Pakistan's Nation daily as saying that the Taliban had named bin Laden commander of their troops. Afghanistan's civil war concerns the Kremlin as hundreds of Russian border guards monitor the Afghan-Tajik border and a potential spill of violence could plunge the whole region into chaos.
Moreover, the Taliban's aim to build an orthodox Islamic state has given rise to many Islamic extremist movements in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. In recent years, Islamic insurgents from Afghanistan launched raids on Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The Taliban's ongoing clashes with the Northern Alliance movement backing ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani -- the leader of the government general recognized by international organizations -- have alerted Russia and its partners as arms smuggling, drug trafficking, kidnapping and other crimes have flourished along the Afghan-Tajik border.
On Thursday, Moscow also condemned the appointment of Juma Namangani as bin Laden's deputy. Namangani, an ethnic Uzbek, was liked to a number of raids on Kyrgyzstan's Batken district over the last three years. Namangani advocates creation of an Islamic state run by a regime similar to the Taliban's and spreading over Central Asia.
"Incorporation of the international terrorists' leaders into the ruling structures of the Taliban shows the need to take decisive measures to collectively counter global challenges that are put forward from the Taliban-controlled territory," said the statement.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.