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Vladimir Putin

Chechen leader threatens foes in bid to gain Putin's support

The Kremlin-backed strongman of Chechnya has issued a stream of threats against Russia's liberal opposition, but his primary audience appears to be the Russian president himself.

With Ramzan Kadyrov's five-year stint as regional leader about to expire, he is trying to parlay his strong personal ties with President Vladimir Putin to extend his hold on power. The Russian president must now decide whether to keep him in place or yield to rising pressure from law-enforcement agencies to get rid of the wayward strongman, who has ruled Chechnya like his personal fiefdom.

Putin has seen the burly, red-haired 39-year-old former rebel as essential to keeping Chechnya stable after two...