President Vladimir Putin on Friday gave his blessing for Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia’s Chechnya, to carry on in the job, but warned the unpredictable former warlord that Russian law must be strictly enforced in the majority Muslim region.
Kadyrov, a former Islamist rebel, often pays little heed to the rules that govern the rest of the country and Putin’s warning will be seen as an attempt to rein him in and remind him who is boss.
Although Kadyrov, 39, swears loyalty to Putin, critics say he has carved out a state within a state enforcing a strict Islamic “code of virtue” for women and using methods against insurgents human rights groups see as rights abuses.
“It’s essential to coordinate more closely when it comes to working with the federal organs of power, especially on security matters,” Putin told Kadyrov during a meeting in his Kremlin office.
“You must do everything to ensure that Russian law in all spheres of life is observed. I want to underline in all spheres of life.”
Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya since 2007, said he would do his best. His current term of office expires next month. Putin said he had signed a decree appointing him acting leader until regional elections in September when he said he hoped that voters would recognise all Kadyrov had achieved.
In previous elections in Chechnya in the past few years, candidates endorsed by the Kremlin have won by huge margins.
Putin’s decision was widely expected. Alienating Kadyrov, who commands tens of thousands of armed loyalists and has concentrated power in his own hands, would have risked re-igniting an Islamist insurgency that he has helped the Kremlin leader defeat.