Chechnya's Leader Is Making a Play for Bigger Regional Role: Analysts

He's a self-proclaimed anti-extremist Islamic warrior and Vladimir Putin supporter with a penchant for horse racing, wrestling, Hollywood celebrities — and, according to some, brutal repression, NBC News reported.

Now Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya, looks to be trying to muscle into a bigger role on the regional stage, experts watching the strongman say.

The 39-year-old "is interested in being a deputy prime minister overseeing inter-ethnic relations, a job that the Kremlin would need to create specifically for him," according to Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank.

Kadyrov has a lot going for him. The scion of a powerful clan, Kadyrov battled the federal Russian government in the first Chechen war in the 1990s. The Kadyrovs sided with Moscow in the second war in the 2000s when the predominantly secular uprising was taken over by jihadists.

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