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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kadyrov Inaugurated in Gudermes

APAkhmad Kadyrov, center, walking past Chechens in traditional dress on the way to his inauguration in Gudermes on Sunday.
Akhmad Kadyrov was inaugurated Sunday as Chechen president, two weeks after winning an election that the Kremlin promoted as a significant step toward stability but that critics denounced as a sham.

In a reflection of the violence that continues to plague Chechnya, where the second war in a decade is in its fifth year, the location of the inauguration was not made public ahead of time due to concerns that rebels might try to attack the ceremony.

The inauguration took place at the local administration headquarters in Gudermes, Chechnya's second-largest city. Officials attending were even told to switch off mobile phones for security reasons, agencies reported.

Kadyrov, once the spiritual leader of Muslim Chechens, gave the oath of office in Russian and not, as expected, on the Koran at the ceremony, which began with the Russian national anthem.

"I am not a religious leader, or the head of an Islamic state," Interfax quoted him as saying.

In comments at the ceremony, Kadyrov reiterated calls for the republic to be granted a special economic status, a move he has said is far more important for Chechnya than political autonomy.

"Chechnya's political status has been determined in a [March 2003] referendum, it is a republic within the Russian Federation. At the same time we will be seeking the status of economic autonomy," Kadyrov was quoted by Interfax as saying."

Kadyrov has said that his first move as president will be to form a commission to investigate all crimes in Chechnya since 1991, a move that could be aimed at promoting reconciliation allowing separatists and civilians to publicly come forward with complaints of atrocities by Russian troops and by rebels.

"My main ambition is restore peace in Chechnya, give the Chechen people jobs and confidence in the future," Interfax reported Kadyrov as saying.

But when asked if he would seek a second term, Kadyrov indicated his own confidence in the future was not firm.

"I am never sure I will come back safe when I leave my house in the morning," he said, according to Interfax.

Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, a military spokesman, said Friday that authorities have detained 60 people he claimed were members of armed groups that planned to carry out terrorist attacks across the North Caucasus region and disrupt the weekend inauguration of Chechnya's president.

Shabalkin said authorities have confiscated large quantities of weapons and ammunition -- about enough to fill a truck -- and Channel One showed footage of guns, grenade launchers and other weapons Shabalkin said had been seized.

Officials said Friday that passage into Grozny would be restricted Sunday, and officials have said at least 3,000 Russian and Chechen police and security forces would guard the newly built government complex there.

Kadyrov's eldest son, Zelimkhan, was not able to attend the inauguration after being seriously injured in a car accident in eastern Chechnya on Friday.

Zelimkhan Kadyrov, 29, an officer in the Chechen Interior Ministry, was rushed to a Gudermes hospital and later flown to Moscow, where he underwent surgery.

Doctors described his condition as stable, Interfax reported.

(AP, Reuters)