Chechen PM Kadyrov orders his portraits removed from streets

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GUDERMES, September 27 (RIA Novosti) - Chechnya's prime minister said Wednesday he was clearing photographs of him from streets across the North Caucasus republic after accusing local officials of imposing a personality cult on Chechens.

Ramzan Kadyrov, 29, the son of late Moscow-backed President Akhmad Kadyrov, has held the post of premier since March 2006. He was made deputy prime minister in 2004 after the assassination of his father, a Muslim cleric who once fought against federals before taking charge of the republic.

"I strongly object to my portraits being hung on streets," Kadyrov said. "They have been removed twice on my orders, and I give my word that all portraits will again be taken down within 24 hours."

Pictures of both Kadyrovs are often seen on buildings, including apartment blocks. And the premier blamed government officials and local administration representatives for over-promoting his image and trying to cash in on it.

Kadyrov, instantly recognizable with his likeness to his father with the exception of a ginger beard, also said his photographs were unnecessary because everyone in the republic knew his face anyway.

Kadyrov, who previously courted controversy among rights activists for maintaining a private army known as the "kadyrovtsy", is widely tipped to replace the incumbent president, Alu Alkhanov, when he turns 30 in October.

Last December, Kadyrov strongly opposed a parliamentary motion to rename Grozny Akhmad-Kala after his father. He said that best memorial would be to rebuild the capital, ravaged by a decade of fighting.

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