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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 21:28 GMT
Chechen head rules out opposition
By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Grozny

Chechnya's president, Ramzan Kadyrov, speaks to the media in Grozny on 1 November 2007
Ramzan Kadyrov denied the population lived in a state of fear
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has said there is no need for any official opposition parties in the southern Russian republic.

Mr Kadyrov also repeated that 100% of voters in Chechnya would support the party headed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in coming elections.

Mr Kadyrov, 31, told foreign journalists in the capital, Grozny, the Chechen people loved their government.

He also denied he or his militia had committed any human rights violations.

Personality cult denied

This was not a conventional news conference. The Russian and Chechen officials who have been escorting us around Chechnya over the past two days told us to wait outside at one of the capital's main squares.

An hour later, Mr Kadyrov marched through the city streets with minimal security to greet us and answer our questions.

Dressed casually in a leather jacket he dismissed allegations that he or his notorious militia had committed human rights violations since taking control of Chechnya with the full backing of Moscow.

Map of Chechnya

He also denied the population now lived in a state of fear or that he had created a personality cult around himself.

But he was blunt when asked whether there was a need for opposition parties in the republic, especially with national parliamentary elections due at the beginning of December.

"Why do we need to create an opposition if we, the government, are going in the right direction and people love us?" he said.

And, he added, there was already an opposition - "the people who tell us when we need to do things differently".

But an independent media organisation here told us there is a state of fear in Chechnya, even though the conflict with separatist rebels is now largely over.

And that probably means that most people who do turn out to vote in next month's elections will heed Mr Kadyrov's call to vote for United Russia, a political party - created by the Kremlin - of which President Putin will be chief candidate.

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