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24 Dec, 2007 19:36

Chechens in EU denied perks of new passport rules

Polish authorities have detained 59 people from Russia's Chechen republic, who were attempting to cross the border into Germany. The group, which includes 28 children, were traveling on a passenger train to Berlin.

Although this comes after a recent expansion of the Schengen zone, which allows passport free travel between Poland and Germany, the Chechens did not have the right to cross the border, Polish authorities say.

The group had applied for refugee status in Poland, and had the right to stay there while their application was being considered.

But they are not allowed to travel to other EU countries.

Now the group will either be considered for refugee status and granted asylum, or they will be deported to the country they came from.

The number of Russian citizens seeking political asylum abroad has increased recently. Most of them are residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Many believe this is economic migration, people seeking out western countries offering better conditions.