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Akhmad Kadyrov, born 1951

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Updated: 06.10.2003

Akhmad Kadyrov, president of the Chechen Republic, elected on October 5, 2003.

Akhmad Kadyrov was born in Kazakhstan in 1951, to a family caught up in Stalin's mass deportations of the Chechen people during World War II. He studied Islam in Soviet Uzbekistan in the 1980s, and rose to prominence in 1989 as head of the first Islamic institute in the Northern Caucasus. In the beginning of 90-s he continued his education in Jordan. He was appointed deputy mufti in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in 1993, when Dzhokhar Dudayev's separatist regime was still tolerated by Moscow.

In 1992 a case was brought against Kadyrov who was suspected of misappropriation of funds, contributed by pilgrims from Chechnya making pilgrimage to Mecca. Later the case against Kadyrov was stopped.

By the time he took over as mufti in 1995, the 1994-96 Chechen war had already begun, and he was combining religious activities with a separate role as a guerrilla commander.

However, things changed in 1999 when he openly condemned Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev's attempt to forge an Islamic state by force of arms in neighbouring Dagestan. He also called on Chechens not to put up armed resistance when Russian forces returned to the republic later that year. Separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov branded him "enemy number one" and sacked him as mufti. It was this change of fortune which put him in the Kremlin's sights. Someone was needed to head a new pro-Moscow administration, and after some hard negotiation Mr Putin appointed him.

As leader, he now found himself with a whole host of enemies and quickly became used to regular attempts on his life. At one point, Mr Maskhadov's forces said they would not even bother to try to kill him any more, because he had so many other mortal enemies to do the job for them.

Although in the eyes of the Chechen rebel leadership he remains the Kremlin's puppet he has been criticial of Russia's actions. He has complained of Russia's failure to invest adequately in Chechnya's future, and openly accused Moscow's forces of brutality against Chechen civilians.

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