Chechen President assasinated

The pro-Moscow President of Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, has been
killed in a bomb explosion. The President was attending a ceremony commemorating Russian
victory in World War II in a stadium on Sunday morning, when the
bomb, planted under seats near the VIP box, exploded. Five others
also died and more than 50 people were injured. Mr Kadyrov was a former rebel and supreme mufti (Muslim
religious leader) of Chechnya. In the mid-1990s he called for a
holy war against Russia and led a division of guerillas. However,
when Vladimir Putin became President in 1999 he changed his
position to supporting Russia. This won him power, but also
engendered resentment among many Chechens, including former
President (and current rebel leader), Aslan Maskhadov. Maskhadov
has denied responsibility for the bombing. After three years as interim President sponsored by the Moscow
government, Mr Kadyrov was made President last October, when an
election considered by the EU and others to have been suspicious
awarded him 81% of the vote. As both interim and permanent President, Mr Kadyrov continued
to build a private army. Despite being viewed by many as a
Russian puppet, he was often deeply critical of Russian actions
in Chechnya. Fresh Presidential elections will take place in September.
Until then, Prime Minister Sergei Abramov will function as
President. Mr Kadyrov’s son Ramzan, the head of his private
army, has been made deputy leader, prompting suggestions that the
Russian government are grooming him to succeed his father. An
additional 1,000 troops will be sent to Chechnya by the Russian
government.ARCHIVE: 2nd week TT 2004