Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, announced today that the time has come for the Russian government to find his replacement. Kadyrov delivered the bombshell in an interview with the television network NTV.
“There are lots of successors on our team. We've got very good specialists,” Kadyrov said.
The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of Boris Nemtsov's assassination. Many in the opposition accuse Kadyrov of having played a role in Nemtsov's death. The suspects arrested for the crime all have ties to Chechnya and the North Caucasus.
In the interview, Kadyrov told NTV that Nemtsov “never bothered him,” explaining that Nemtsov “was not at [his] level.” The interview has already aired for television audiences in Russia's Far East. Viewers in Moscow won't see the interview for another several hours.
“So my name isn't used against my people, I think the government's leadership needs to find someone else. I say my time has passed,” Kadyrov said.
Kadyrov's current term has head of the Chechen government expires in April 2016. He told NTV that he thinks his job is done and his political career has “peaked,” but he's also said publicly that he'll return to office, “if asked to come back.”
Kadyrov has repeatedly challenged investigators' claims that Zaur Dadayev, a decorated former Chechen soldier, is the man who pulled the trigger in Nemtsov's murder. Nemtsov's family has demanded that police question Kadyrov in connection with the killing, but Russia's Federal Investigative Committee has said it sees no reason to do this.
A recent report authored by the opposition politician Ilya Yashin (one of Nemtsov's allies) also accuses Kadyrov of having played a role in Nemtsov's death.