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Chechnya OKs New Premier

March 05, 2006|From Associated Press

GROZNY, Russia — Chechnya's parliament on Saturday unanimously approved the head of a security force widely accused of human rights abuses for the post of prime minister.

Ramzan Kadyrov replaces Sergei Abramov, who resigned last week. The president of the war-battered Russian republic said Abramov, who was badly injured in a car accident this winter, had resigned because of health concerns. Abramov was quoted by news agencies as saying he had stepped down to pave the way for Kadyrov, his deputy.

Kadyrov is the son of a Kremlin-backed Chechen president who was assassinated in 2004. He is widely seen as likely to become president after he reaches the minimum age of 30 this year.

Many Chechens and human rights groups complain of brutality by Kadyrov's shadowy security force, which has allegedly abducted and abused civilians. Critics say Russia's attempts to restore a functioning society in Chechnya, where separatists have fought Russian forces about a dozen years, are undermined by abuse by officials.

Russian forces withdrew from Chechnya after their defeat by rebels in a 1994-96 war but swept in again in 1999. Since then, Russian troops have established control over the republic's northern flatlands but have been unable to drive them out of the southern mountains.

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