The pro-Moscow president of Chechnya was killed along with a number of others
in a bomb blast during an annual parade in the Chechen capital, Grozny, to mark
Moscow's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The explosion appeared to
mark a setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin's claim that the long-running
conflict in Chechnya is over.
Spectators had crowded into a large sports stadium in Grozny when the planned
Victory Day celebration turned into a scene of horror.
The powerful blast erupted under the reviewing stand where Chechen President
Akhmad Kadyrov and other top officials were sitting.
The explosion tore a huge hole in the stand as spectators scattered in panic.
Security agents say the bomb was hidden inside the concrete of the stadium,
which is why it was not detected during a security sweep before the parade
was to start.
The explosion also killed the leader of Chechnya's State Council and injured
numerous other military and civilian officials.
The violence erupted as Russian President Vladimir Putin was attending Russia's
main Victory Day parade, in Moscow's Red Square.
Mr. Putin blamed the Grozny explosion on on "terrorists" and said they could
expect swift retribution. The somber-looking Russian leader met in the Kremlin
with Mr. Kadyrov's son, who was in Moscow.
President Putin praised the assassinated Chechen leader, saying Mr. Kadyrov
worked hard for the Chechen people.
The explosion appeared to mark a major setback for Mr. Putin, who has long
maintained that the conflict in Chechnya is all but over.
The Russian president appointed Mr. Kadyrov to lead Chechnya several-years
ago. The 52-year-old Chechen leader was officially elected to the post of president
last October in a ballot that was criticized by international observers.
Separatist rebel groups in Chechnya had long accused Mr. Kadyrov of being
a traitor and had tried several times before to assassinate him.