In what is the culmination of his spectacular rise to power, Ramzan Kadyrov has been sworn in as Chechnya’s new president. Loyal to Vladimir Putin, the 30-year-old amateur boxer has effectively already been in charge for some time as a key part of the Kremlin’s strategy in the troubled Russian republic.
Supporters say Kadyrov has restored order to Chechnya after the region was wrecked by fighting between federal soldiers and rebels. But for critics, the former rebel turned Moscow ally rules by fear – heading a militia, accused by human rights groups of kidnap and murder. They are allegations Kadyrov denies.
Kadyrov, who became Chechen prime minister last year, is following in the footsteps of his late father as Chechen president. Akhmad Kadyrov was killed by a bomb in 2004. Some analysts say his son’s relationship with the Kremlin could fall apart after Putin, in his second and final term as Russian president, steps down next year.
Influential members of Russia’s security service and the military are wary of the power and influence Kadyrov has accumulated. They say he could turn against his masters in Moscow. They have poured huge funds into rebuilding Grozny, with Kadyrov taking much of the credit for the transformation. The Chechen capital was devastated in fighting that killed thousands of soldiers and civilians.