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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kadyrov Sacks His Cabinet

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov on Tuesday fired his Cabinet in a move that appeared to reflect infighting among the regional officials.

Kadyrov issued a decree dismissing his government as well as all local administrators throughout the region. He immediately reappointed Chechnya's prime minister, Anatoly Popov, and instructed him to name candidates for Cabinet posts in two weeks.

Kadyrov has been eager to assert that he makes key personnel decisions himself and is not beholden to the Kremlin. He appointed Popov earlier this year on President Vladimir Putin's orders, according to local media reports.

Kadyrov replaced Grozny Mayor Oleg Zhidkov with Khozh-Akhmed Arsanov, previously head of Chechnya's obscure committee for youth affairs. Zhidkov has frequently defied Kadyrov, and their bodyguards were even said to exchange fire on some occasions.

Observers said Kadyrov ordered the Cabinet reshuffle in an apparent effort to reassert his influence in Chechnya, as rival clans vie for the Kremlin's favor.

Chechnya will elect a president and parliament this winter, and Kadyrov has said he will run.

Popov, who was appointed prime minister in February, tried to downplay the shake-up. He said it was a routine, technical move intended to bring the local government's structure in compliance with the Chechen constitution approved in a March referendum.

Also Tuesday, Sergei Manakhov, an Interior Ministry official who deals with illegal weapons trade, said the authorities may also start buying weapons from Chechnya's population.

Meanwhile, the military said Tuesday that it has found a cache containing weapons and archives of rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov in the southern village of Makhkety. Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the military, said the documents included receipts from Maskhadov's subordinates, some of them for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Shabalkin said that in 2000 and 2001, Chechen rebels received from $1 million to $2 million each month from foreign terrorist groups linked to al-Qaida.