Chechnya ready to crown former rebel as president
Wed 4 Apr 2007 22:22:38 BST
GROZNY, Russia, April 5 (Reuters) - Russia's troubled region of
Chechnya prepared to install as its president on Thursday a
30-year-old amateur boxer whom human rights groups accuse of murdering
and kidnapping civilians.
Chechen authorities have bolstered security and planned lavish parties
for the inauguration of Ramzan Kadyrov, credited by locals with
restoring order after two wars since 1994 between federal soldiers and
rebels wrecked the region.
Kadyrov, a former rebel turned Moscow ally who has his own militia
force, has been a key tool in a Kremlin strategy to isolate the
remaining separatist forces in Chechnya.
"Ramzan Kadyrov is an excellent guy and a strong president," a
43-year-old man also called Ramzan said as he knelt by a Grozny
roadside banging cobble stones into a new pavement -- part of the
frenetic reconstruction Kadyrov has overseen.
"After he became head of the government all has been well."
The stocky, bearded Kadyrov, who has always denied allegations of
rights abuses, became prime minister in the region's pro-Moscow
administration last year and took over as president-designate in February.
He is following in the footsteps of his father, killed by a bomb in
2004 when he was Chechnya's pro-Moscow leader.
With help from Kadyrov's militias, Russian forces have killed most of
the insurgency's leaders and driven the rebels into mountain hideouts
from where they launch occasional guerrilla-style attacks.
But some analysts say the relationship could fall apart after Russian
President Vladimir Putin, in his second and final term, steps down in
"Putin has given Kadyrov the presidency himself and it will be okay
until the next presidential election," Alexei Malashenko from the
Carnegie Centre in Moscow said. "But when the next president comes to
power Kadyrov could be in trouble."
Influential members of the Russian security service, the FSB, and the
military are wary of the power and influence Kadyrov has accumulated.
They say he could turn against his masters in Moscow.
Moscow has poured huge funds into rebuilding Grozny and Chechnya, but
Kadyrov has taken much of the credit. Huge posters with his picture
and streets named after him and his father have helped create a
In the capital, the signs of the fighting that killed thousands of
soldiers and civilians lurk in the shadows.
Suburban apartment blocks shattered by artillery shells stand as a
silent reminder of the years of violence and armed men patrol almost
every street corner.