Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kadyrov Says He Has No Presidential Plans For Now

Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov said in comments released Friday that he had no plans to take over soon as president of the republic.

Kadyrov, who holds the No. 2 position but is the most powerful leader in Chechnya, told journalists in the regional capital, Grozny, that he had no immediate presidential ambitions.

"I have already repeatedly stated and I state again that this question for me is not topical," he said in remarks released by his office. Alu Alkhanov, elected president in 2004 after the assassination of Kadyrov's father, said this week that he would step down when his term ends in August 2008.

The announcement sparked speculation that Kadyrov could act to assume the presidency.

Alkhanov is being offered a high position in the Interior Ministry as an inducement to step down early, Kommersant reported Thursday, citing an unidentified official in the office of President Vladimir Putin's envoy to southern Russia.

Kadyrov has been hailed for efforts to rebuild the mostly Muslim region, devastated by more than a decade of fighting between federal forces and separatist rebels, but has been tainted by widespread accusations of abuses against civilians, including torture and killing, by security forces under his control.

In a reshuffle last week, he replaced the police chiefs of three districts in the southern mountains of Chechnya where rebels continue to hide out in bases.

The prime minister, who has been the focus of a mounting personality cult, is the son of Akhmad Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed Chechen president who was assassinated in a bomb blast in 2004.