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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gantamirov Renamed The Mayor Of Grozny

The Kremlin renamed convicted embezzler Bislan Gantamirov as mayor of the devastated Chechen capital on Wednesday, saying it had ended an embarrassing feud between the two most prominent pro-Moscow Chechen leaders.

Moscow appointed Gantamirov the Grozny mayor the first time after its troops seized the city during the 1994-96 war. He was jailed after being convicted of stealing millions of dollars intended to rebuild the city. Gantamirov was pardoned and released to head a pro-Moscow militia when federal troops returned to Chechnya.

RTR television showed Viktor Kazantsev, the Kremlin’s envoy in southern Russia, announcing Gantamirov’s appointment in the city of Rostov-on-Don with Akhmad Kadyrov, Moscow’s handpicked Chechen boss.

Kadyrov and Gantamirov had clashed angrily earlier this year, embarassing their Kremlin sponsors.

"At the meeting today, Gantamirov was appointed head of the Grozny administration," Kazantsev said. Turning to Gantamirov, he added: "Many people doubted that we would find a truce, but we came to it unanimously today. It is forever, right?"

Gantamirov replied: "Yes, it is true, it is really true. Akhmad Kadyrov and I realize that Chechen people should not suffer because of us, and I confirm that we are obliged to work together."

Russia says it wants to resolve the conflict in Chechnya politically, but has refused dialogue with the pro-independence leadership and confined its relations to hand-picked Chechen leaders who recognize Moscow’s sovereignty over the region.

But the pro-Moscow leaders, many of whom command small town or village clan-based militias, have proved to be a fractious lot.

Gantamirov’s power base is the western town of Urus-Martan, while Kadyrov’s is in the eastern city of Gudermes.

Moscow named Gantamirov as Kadyrov’s deputy in the spring, but the two quarreled and their militia nearly clashed in July when Gantamirov’s forces swept through Kadyrov’s Gudermes stronghold searching for "bandits."