MOSCOW - The leader of Russia's volatile
Chechnya region on Friday proposed adding its capital to the
list of host cities for the 2018 World Cup.
"We are completing a sports complex in Grozny which is up to
international standards... Naturally, we will offer our city
for other matches," Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader
said on the official site chechnya.gov.ru.
A decade after Moscow drove separatists from power in the
second of two wars, peace in Muslim Chechnya is shaky at best.
Russia, which on Thursday won the rights to host the world's
biggest sporting event, is however unlikely to bring any matches
to the North Caucasus, which includes Chechnya.
President Dmitry Medvedev last year said the region was
Russia's biggest domestic political problem.
Islamist insurgents stage near daily attacks across the
North Caucasus, especially Chechnya, neighbouring Dagestan and
Russia has said it will build 13 stadiums and revamp three
more for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to be held in 13 cities:
Moscow, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod,
Rostov-on-Don, St Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd,
Yaroslavl and Yekaterinburg.
Kadyrov, an ex-rebel who fought against the Russians and
then switched sides, is largely credited by the Kremlin for
rebuilding Chechnya over the past two years. Rights groups say
he rules Chechnya with an iron fist.
Although Chechnya today boasts glistening shopping centres,
fancy cafes and meticulously paved streets, most Russians from
outside the region do not dare venture there.
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