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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 August, 2004, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Putin visits Chechen leader grave
Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers by the graveside
Mr Kadyrov was key to the Russian president's peace plan for Chechnya
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made an unannounced trip to Chechnya, to visit the grave of the region's late pro-Moscow leader.

Mr Putin laid flowers at the grave of former Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov who was killed by a rebel bomb in May.

The visit came a week ahead of elections to choose a new leader for the troubled region.

Mr Putin was accompanied by Mr Kadyrov's son and Chechen Interior Minister, Alu Alkhanov.

Mr Alkhanov is the Kremlin's favoured candidate to replace Mr Kadyrov.

Backed by the Russian authorities and the Kadyrov family, he currently directs police helping Russian troops to fight the Chechen separatist rebels.

Rebel bomb

Mr Putin showered the late Mr Kadyrov with praise during the rare visit to the region on Russia's southern border, says the BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow.

"We lost a sincere, courageous, talented and decent man," Mr Putin said at the graveside.

"He had no other goal but to serve his people."

Mr Kadyrov died on 9 May when a bomb went off in a VIP seating area of Dynamo stadium in Grozny during a ceremony marking victory in World War II.

His death was seen as a huge blow to Moscow's attempts to restore order in the republic.

Mr Putin added that everything had to be done to carry out what Mr Kadyrov, who would have celebrated his 53rd birthday on Monday, had planned for Chechnya.

The visit came after a day of violence in the region, where rebels have been fighting for independence for more than a decade.

Military officials say that on Saturday at least 12 soldiers and police were killed in rebel attacks.

The BBC's Steven Rosenberg
"The Kremlin is going out of its way to produce the results it wants"

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