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Kadyrov Takes Reins of Chechnya's Presidency


In Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov has been sworn in as president. He was appointed by Moscow to rule the province three years ago, and was the landslide winner of an election that critics say was neither free nor fair.

The inauguration took place in the republic's second city of Gudermes, rather than in the capital, Grozny, where there is almost daily fighting between federal troops and rebels.

According to Russian media reports, tanks blocked all entry points to the city, and there was a heavy police presence among the spectators.

On Friday, the deputy director of Mr. Kadyrov's security service was killed by a remote-controlled bomb. The new Chechen president himself has survived numerous assassination attempts, since the Kremlin appointed him as Chechnya's top civilian official. Mr.Kadyrov, an Islamic cleric, was affiliated with the separatist rebels during the first war in Chechnya, but switched sides after the second war began in 1999.

In the presidential balloting in Chechnya on October 5, he received more than 80 percent of the vote. Human rights activists said the turnout figures were inflated, and denounced the election as a farce. They said opinion polls conducted prior to the election showed that Mr. Kadyrov was regarded by the majority of Chechens as a turncoat, and placed him well behind two other candidates who later withdrew, or were not allowed to participate in the race.

Shortly after his election, Mr. Kadyrov called for reconciliation, and promised to set up a commission of inquiry into all crimes committed in the province since 1991. He said his main ambition was to restore peace in Chechnya, and give the Chechen people jobs and confidence in the future.

His election was part of the Kremlin's peace plan for the war-torn republic. The plan calls for separate powers between the region and Moscow, in order to give more autonomy to Chechnya. Within three months, the people of Chechnya will elect a new two-chamber parliament, as required by the new constitution, which was adopted in March.

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