, MOSCOW, Apr 7 – Chechnya does not need independence its strongman president Ramzan Kadyrov insisted in an interview to the state Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily.
"I will explain why I do not need independence. We have a small territory, very little space to sow bread, and we have high birth rates. Once oil is over, what will I do as a sovereign leader?" Kadyrov said when asked if Chechnya would break away when granted control over its oil.
Kadyrov also denied rumors of his involvement in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of Moscow’s policies in Chechnya.
"We need Politkovskaya now, to show what she used to say and what is now! People come and go, move freely about Grozny, life is normal," Kadyrov said.
"What was the most effective way our enemies could have used Politkovskaya? Only by murdering her," Kadyrov said, accusing the self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky of being behind her October 2006 murder.
A former fighter in the anti-Moscow rebel army turned pro-Kremlin leader, Kadyrov has been accused of numerous murders and human rights violations during a tenure that has seen a great deal of security return to Chechnya.
Chechen separatists fought two bloody wars with Russia for independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union but Kadyrov has restored Kremlin control over the republic.
Chechnya owes much to Russia’s former president and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Kadyrov insisted.
"If it were not for Putin, Chechnya would not have existed. He saved our people, this man in the Kremlin who trusted us. I owe Putin my life, I will never forget that, or I am not a man," Kadyrov said, praising Putin as "the man I think most holy."