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Chechen parliament approves Kadyrov as president

The parliament of Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya Friday approved Ramzan Kadyrov as president of Chechnya.
GROZNY, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - The parliament of Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya Friday approved Ramzan Kadyrov as president of Chechnya.

The candidacy of acting President Kadyrov was approved by 56 out of 58 Chechen members of the parliament.

Russian President Vladimir nominated Kadyrov for the presidency Thursday.

In mid-February, Putin accepted the resignation of Alu Alkhanov, ex-president of the troubled North Caucasus republic, whose term was due to expire in 2008, and appointed him to the post of deputy justice minister in the central government. The move was widely seen as clearing the way for the ex-prime minister and acting president Kadyrov to become president.

Kadyrov thanked Putin for his nomination and said yesterday that if parliament approved his candidacy, he planned to make Chechnya the most peaceful and prosperous region in Russia.

"If I have the trust, I will make every effort to continue the work my father and you started so that Chechens can live with dignity and in safety," he said. Kadyrov also pledged to eradicate terrorism and Wahhabism in the republic.

Kadyrov, the son of the late President Akhmad Kadyrov, who had been in charge of his father's security and is popular among Chechens, was unable to take up the post following his father's assassination in May 2004, because at the time he had not yet reached the age of 30 - a pre-condition for presidential candidates set by the Chechen Constitution.

Alkhanov filled the position in the August 2004 election, in which he was the only candidate backed by the Kremlin.

Kadyrov was appointed first deputy prime minister and promoted to the post of advisor to Putin's envoy in the Southern Federal District several months later.

In November 2005, Kadyrov Jr. became acting prime minister and later prime minister of his home republic. In October, he turned 30 and following Alkhanov's resignation he was appointed acting president of Chechnya.

Russian troops have fought two wars against separatists in Chechnya since 1994. Moscow has declared an end to the active phase of the campaign and significantly scaled down its military presence in Chechnya, but fighting and terrorist attacks still occur there, occasionally spilling over into neighboring regions.

Former militants, the Kadyrovs switched sides and helped federal troops crush the insurgency. Kadyrov still has a private army, which helps maintain order, but has also been accused of kidnappings and other crimes by human rights groups.

On the day when Putin nominated Kadyrov, Thomas Hammarberg, a Council of Europe human rights commissioner, said at a human rights conference following his three-day visit to Chechnya that prisoners in the North Caucasus republic had told him they were regularly tortured and brutally treated.

Hammarberg called for measures to be taken to punish those responsible, including surprise checks during interrogations to prevent torture and forced confessions, which, he said, undermine the entire justice system.

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