Chechens sent to Russia to train for elite

May 21, 2004

Some 300 Chechens are to attend university in Russia as part of a renewed effort to reconstruct the war-torn region.

The students will be sent to Russian universities and trained in skills necessary to form the core of an administrative elite in the Russian-ruled republic.

A Kremlin commission, headed by German Gref, Russia's economic development and trade minister, was told to include the student scheme in its plans for beefed-up security and economic rebuilding projects in Chechnya during a brief visit Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, made to Grozny last week.

President Putin's visit, which was not made public until his return to Moscow later that same evening, came less than 48 hours after Akhmad Kadyrov, the pro-Moscow Chechen president, was killed in an explosion in Grozny during a parade marking the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

President Putin, who only days before had attended Kremlin ceremonies to mark the inauguration of his second term in office, seized the opportunity after President Kadyrov's assassination and sent an extra 1,250 police to Grozny.

Sergei Abramov, who was appointed acting Chechen president after President Kadyrov's death, said the students who were to be trained at the Russian universities had been selected.

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's first deputy prime minister and son of the assassinated president, backed the plan. Moscow is grooming him to take over the presidency in elections scheduled for September.

He said that the rebuilding of civil society in Chechnya pursued by his father -with an emphasis on restoring the economy through supporting education and the development of small businesses - should be continued and strengthened.

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