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Putin's Choice Approved as New President of Chechnya

Chechnya's parliament has approved a former rebel leader as the war-torn region's president. The approval came one day after Ramzan Kadyrov was nominated for the post by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bill Gasperini has more for VOA from Moscow.

Ramzan Kadyrov, 30, won almost unanimous approval from the two chambers of Chechnya's regional parliament.

The former rebel, who has previously served as prime minister of the republic, is credited with helping subdue militant separatists in Chechnya. But human rights groups say security forces under Mr. Kadyrov's control have aducted, tortured and killed many civilians who are suspected of being separatist rebels.

The new president has also been accused of being involved in the killing of Anna Politovskaya, a high-profile journalist with the opposition daily Novaya Gazeta who reported frequently on Chechnya.

She was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building last October just before an article was due to appear linking Mr. Kadyrov to torture. He has denied the charges, saying that "he would never kill a woman."

Chechnya is a mostly-Muslim region that has a centuries-long history of resisting Russian rule, first under the tsars and later against the Soviet regime.

In the early 1990s it attempted to break away from Moscow's grip until former President Boris Yeltsin sent thousands of troops in, leading to bitter fighting and mass destruction.

None of this history was mentioned when President Putin met Mr. Kadyrov in the Kremlin.

The new Chechen president praised Mr. Putin and pledged to do his best in his new post.

Mr. Kadyrov is the son of Ahkmad Kadyrov, who was the president of Chechnya until he was assassinated in 2004.

Both men initially fought on the separatist side before switching and backing Russian rule in the restive region.

Analysts say Mr. Putin views Mr. Kadyrov as the person best able to maintain stability in Chechnya, where sporadic fighting between Russian soldiers and rebels continues.