The 45-year-old Kadyrov has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist since 2007. “I think the time has come for me (to step down),” Kadyrov said in a pre-recorded video. The Chechen leader is one of the most powerful people in Russia and has close relations with President Vladimir Putin. The last time the two men met was on August 5 in Sochi.
“I’m skeptical about it. He (Kadyrov) has said similar things in the past,” said Ivan Klyszcz, an expert on the Caucasus at the Institute of Political Studies in Estonia. “Such statements usually come when he wants something from Putin, even the smallest expression of support,” Klyszcz added.
Analysts say the timing of the announcement, at a time of Europe’s biggest war since 1945, is somewhat unusual. Kadyrov has played an important role in promoting Russia’s war interests in Ukraine, including recruiting troops to fight alongside the Russian military in the neighboring country.
“If Kadyrov is telling the truth and really resigns voluntarily, it would be unprecedented. The message of the entire (Russian) system because of the war in Ukraine is now ‘stay alert in places,'” Anton Barbashin, director of the Riddle Russia analytical platform, wrote on his Twitter account.
Kadyrov’s regime in Chechnya has been accused many times of widespread human rights abuses or of ordering political assassinations of its opponents elsewhere in Europe.