Chechen leader Kadyrov hits back over Russian shooting

Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov in the Chechen regional capital, Grozny, Russia Image copyright AP
Image caption Chechnya's Ramzan Kadyrov has a close working relationship with the Kremlin

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has told his security forces to fire on Russian federal troops if they operate in Chechnya without his permission.

His comments follow the killing of a man in the Chechen capital this week by security forces from a nearby region.

The man, who was on the federal wanted list, put up armed resistance in the operation, Russian media report.

Mr Kadyrov took charge of Chechnya with Kremlin support in 2007, and continued a long fight against Islamist rebels.

In exchange for loyalty to Russia, the authoritarian Chechen leader has been allowed to maintain his own security force and has largely had a free hand to run the southern Russian republic as he sees fit.

'Shot in the heart'

"I would like to officially state: Open fire if someone from Moscow or Stavropol, it doesn't matter, appears on your turf without your knowledge,'' Mr Kadyrov told Chechen security officials, in televised comments. "We have to be reckoned with."

Mr Kadyrov was angered after an operation by security officers from Russia's Stavropol region, which led to the killing of a Chechen man in Grozny on 19 April.

Chechen human rights official Nurdi Nukhazhiyev told Chechen Grozny TV he had heard from witnesses who said the man was unarmed and had tried to surrender.

"But masked people fired at him point-blank and then finished him off by shooting him in the heart," he added.

Mr Nukhazhiyev said he would ask Russia's interior minister and state prosecutor to investigate.

The Russian government has not yet reacted to Mr Kadyrov's new command.

Human rights groups accuse Mr Kadyrov's security forces of abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings.

Last month, he defended a Chechen man arrested over the high-profile killing of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow.

Critics have linked Ramzan Kadyrov to several assassinations - but he strenuously denies involvement.

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