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DPA: Putin pins hopes for Chechnya on strongman Kadyrov

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  • mariuslab2002
    Putin pins hopes for Chechnya on strongman Kadyrov By Erik Albrecht dpa German Press Agency Published: Saturday March 31, 2007 By Erik Albrecht, Moscow -
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2007
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      Putin pins hopes for Chechnya on strongman Kadyrov
      By Erik Albrecht
      dpa German Press Agency
      Published: Saturday March 31, 2007

      By Erik Albrecht,
      Moscow - Ramzan Kadyrov knew it was just a matter of time
      before he became president of his homeland Chechnya.
      But the 30-year-old strongman, a devout Muslim and former
      separatist rebel, is dogged by controversy. Apart from rebuilding the
      war-ravaged Russian republic, he is alleged to be responsible for
      torture, abductions and murders.

      Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin is placing Chechnya's fate fully in
      the hands of this man, whose inauguration is scheduled for Thursday.
      Russia's president has no other candidate for the post.

      After Putin promoted Kadyrov from Chechen prime minister to
      interim president in mid-February, the energetic man lost no time
      filling all of the key posts in the North Caucasus republic with his
      close allies. His cousin Odes Baisultanov became prime minister.
      Kadyrov also replaced the heads of Grozny, the Chechen capital, and
      of the constitutional court.

      His power has long been virtually unchallenged. Ever since
      Kadyrov's father, Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov, was assassinated
      in May 2004, the son has been considered the heir apparent to lead
      Chechnya. Then 27 years old, Kadyrov, clad in a track suit, was
      swiftly received in the Kremlin by Putin.

      Only Kadyrov's youth prevented him from claiming his republic's
      top job immediately. According to Chechnya's constitution, the
      president must be at least 30 years old.

      So Alu Alkhanov became president, and Kadyrov was appointed prime
      minister. Even so, Alkhanov usually wound up on the short end of
      infighting with Kadyrov. On February 15, Putin formally recognised
      the actual balance of power in Chechnya by dismissing Alkhanov and
      appointing Kadyrov president.

      The Kremlin has thus pinned its hopes for Chechnya on one man.
      "Kadyrov is in a position to resist the federal government," wrote
      the political magazine Kommersant Vlast. "On the other hand, there is
      an entire army of amnestied rebels who subordinate themselves to him
      only."

      The magazine was referring to the so-called Kadyrovtsy ("Kadyrov's
      guys"), the president's private militia of several thousand men. The
      force was originally a bodyguard for Kadyrov's father, and commanded
      by the son, who recruited mainly former rebels - often by threatening
      their families with violence.

      Although security in Chechnya has improved in recent years, police
      and rebels still die in clashes. More than 500 rebels accepted an
      amnesty and surrendered in the last half of 2006. But the Russian
      military estimates that 450 rebels are still hiding in Chechnya's
      mountains.

      After years of conflict, Kadyrov takes credit for Chechnya's
      reconstruction. Last October, on his 30th birthday, a passenger
      aircraft landed at Grozny's reopened airport for the first time since
      1999, the start of the second post-Soviet Chechen war. According to
      media reports, regular flights did not resume until several months
      later, however.

      Despite ubiquitous corruption, Kadyrov has in fact managed to
      repair war damage with some of the billions of roubles allocated by
      the Kremlin.

      At the same time, human rights activists accuse the Kadyrovtsy of
      serious crimes, including abductions and murders. Russian journalist
      and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered last October,
      alleged that Kadyrov himself tortured people. Kadyrov is suspected in
      some quarters of having ordered Politkovskaya's killing.

      Journalists and human rights organisations continue to face major
      restrictions in Chechnya. Kadyrov, meanwhile, is bursting with
      Chechen pride.

      "Russia ought to be grateful to us that no more coffins are coming
      from Chechnya," he declared in mid-March while in Moscow.

      © 2006 - dpa German Press Agency
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